OSHKOSH, Wis. – The presidential campaigns are poised to intensify their focus next week on Wisconsin, which has shown signs that it could buck its own electoral history and support a Republican’s quest for the White House.
Mitt Romney’s campaign said the GOP nominee will visit Milwaukee on Monday night to rally the Republican faithful in his first visit to the Badger State since August. During that visit, Romney also visited the Milwaukee area, a vote-rich, conservative region where he will need to perform well to have a chance of winning Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes.
President Obama’s campaign announced the incumbent will fly to Green Bay on Tuesday, marking the second time the Obama operation has sent a headliner to northeast Wisconsin in less than a week.
Vice President Joe Biden is due to campaign in Oshkosh, about 50 miles southeast of Green Bay, on Friday.
Brown County, where Green Bay is located, is a major swing area. In 2004, when George W. Bush nearly took Wisconsin, the Republican standardbearer won 55 percent of the vote there. But four years later, Obama, on his way to a 14-point romp in the state, flipped Brown County blue and won 55 percent.
Obama, whose Green Bay stop will be his second trip to Wisconsin in October, has a narrow lead in statewide tracking polls. While Democratic officials have expressed confidence in the race’s ultimate outcome, they’ve also acknowledged that the contest will be far tighter this time in a state that hasn't voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1984.
“We have said from day one that this would be a much more competitive race than it was four years ago. It’s no surprise,” Obama campaign spokesman Joe Zapecki told The Washington Examiner on Thursday. “We feel good. I think that no matter what public poll you look at it, it backs that up.”
But Republicans, who easily beat back an effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker in June, have said they are well prepared to match Obama’s strong grassroots operation.
“The grassroots strength that was in place for the recall is in place for the presidential election,” said Jeff Snow, chairman of the College Republicans at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “I completely believe that we can replicate the numbers we had in the recall. We have those voters targeted.”