Hoping to be the first GOP nominee to paint Pennsylvania red since 1988, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a campaign stop in Bucks County Sunday night.
“What a Philadelphia welcome, thank you,” said Romney as he took the stage to the “Rocky” theme song and the chants of 30,000 rally-goers. The rally was about 30 miles away from campus.
Despite a streak of Republican losses in Pennsylvania, Romney remained optimistic that he could take the Keystone State. Obama’s wide leads in the state appear to be fading, as an Allentown Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll released Sunday pegged Obama only three percentage points ahead of Romney — 49 to 46.
“This audience and your voices are being heard all over the nation. They’re being heard in my heart,” Romney said. “The people of America understand we’re taking back the White House because we’re going to win Pennsylvania.”
Attendees weathered the chilly winds in style, donning red, white and blue blankets and Romney-Ryan beanies. Although medics had to help one attendee who fell ill from the cold, most remained energetic and held their “Pennsylvania Believes” signs high above their heads.
Romney presented a bleak view of the country under Obama’s leadership and argued that his five-part plan for the economy would get America “roaring back” again. He promised higher take-home pay for workers and energy independence in eight years.
“Obama has not lived up to promises to solve big problems,” Romney said. “I will.”
He did not shy away from attacking his opponent.
“President Obama asked his supporters to vote for revenge. For revenge!” Romney said in reference to a comment the president made on Friday. “Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country.”
Romney added, “He’s hoping we’ll settle. Americans don’t settle. We build, we aspire, we dream, we listen to that voice which says, ‘We can do better.’”
But the former Massachusetts governor also incorporated themes of bipartisanship into his speech. He suggested to the audience that they “reach across the street to that neighbor with the other guy’s yard sign.” He added that his administration would “reach across the aisle in Washington to people of good faith in the other party.”
The rally ended with a dramatic display of patriotic fireworks set to the swelling music of the Texas instrumental band “Explosions in the Sky.” Romney shook hands with supporters as he headed back to his tour bus. He continued on to Newport, Va., for another rally that same night.
“I’m extremely impressed with the size of the crowd,” attendee Phil Adams said. “I think it shows that Romney has a wonderful chance at not only winning Pennsylvania, but also at being the next president.”
With less than 24 hours until the polls opens, the race for the popular vote is in a dead heat. A CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday night found that 49 percent of likely voters support the president, while an equal percentage favor Romney. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan also made a stop in Pennsylvania this weekend, campaigning in Harrisburg on Saturday.
For now, Romney remains hopeful. “We’re only two days away from a fresh start,” he told the crowd. “Two days away from the first day of a new beginning.”