Romney Gears Back on Campaigning -- to No Ill Effect

Romney Gears Back on Campaigning -- to No Ill Effect

By Erin McPike - June 5, 2012

On Tuesday, a potential Republican vice presidential contender, Rep. Paul Ryan, will hold a business round-table discussion on behalf of the Romney campaign in Raleigh, N.C. -- without Mitt Romney. On Saturday, another VP contender, Sen. Rob Portman, will fly solo in opening the presumptive nominee's Ohio headquarters in Columbus.

By contrast, Romney himself held no events and no interviews on Monday, according to a memo his campaign staff distributed to the press that morning. Tuesday, while voting is under way in a pivotal recall election for governor in Wisconsin, Romney is holding a single public event -- in the solidly red state of Texas.

There are good reasons for this lull in his campaign schedule: For one thing, he’s on a massive fundraising spree, and just wrapped a lengthy swing through cash-heavy California (where he also spent some downtime at his La Jolla home). One Republican insider called Romney a fundraising “maniac,” pointing out that after the candidate started raising funds with the Republican National Committee in mid-April, the joint effort was just $3.5 million short of the combined Democratic National Committee/Obama for America haul, $43.6 million to $40.1 million, and did not even represent a full month of trying.

Still, this light campaign schedule is not an anomaly or a great change from recent weeks. Romney has had almost as many weekdays without public events scheduled as days with them. In fact, since he jumped into the presidential race one year ago, the presumptive GOP nominee has often spaced out his events, preferring just one a day and generally eschewing them on weekends. He departed twice from that schedule: when he was at risk of losing his clear path to the nomination to Newt Gingrich in December and then to Rick Santorum in February.

The last public event Romney held was on Thursday, when he staged a press conference outside the California headquarters of Solyndra to go toe-to-toe with the Obama administration over investment failures. On Friday, he had no campaign events or interviews scheduled but threw in a last-minute interview on CNBC to blast the president for the May jobs report, which showed the nation’s unemployment rate ticking up from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent.

A closer look at the candidate’s schedule since Santorum, his last serious rival, exited the race on April 10 reveals a similar pattern. He kept a Pennsylvania-heavy schedule for the next several days, but started moving into other battleground territory the following week with an appearance in North Carolina, offering a “pre-buttal” to the Democratic convention scheduled there in September.

Ohio and New Hampshire have seen the most of Romney lately, with three separate one-event-a-day visits apiece since Santorum’s departure. And he spent two back-to-back days in Virginia in early May, followed by a commencement speech there a week later.

The candidate returned to Pennsylvania three times -- once to close out his presence there the day before the token primary and then twice more. He also spent back-to-back days in Florida, with single events in Jacksonville and Tampa.

Typically, when Romney hits the big media markets in each of these swing states, he sits for interviews with the local TV affiliates, as he did in the Florida markets and during one of two visits to Colorado. North Carolina has also seen him twice since mid-April.

Nevada, Michigan, Arizona and Iowa have all gotten single visits from Romney since Santorum dropped out of the race, although he spent time in each state during their primaries or caucuses earlier in the year.

But unlike President Obama, who gave sweeping speeches at every key stop in his 2008 primary against Hillary Clinton, including when he crossed his own delegate threshold on June 3, 2008, Romney offered no speech when he reached the necessary number of delegates, instead issuing a short statement via Twitter the night of his Texas victory last week.

And yet, despite this lessening visibility, his favorability rating has climbed steadily. In a CNN/ORC survey, that rating jumped 14 points, to 48 percent, since February, putting him just eight points behind the president’s longstanding high rating. The recent poll also shows the race is within the margin of error. 

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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