DENVER — Mitt Romney will campaign in Denver Sunday and Monday as his campaign looks to increase the pace of daily rallies and events in an effort to shift the trajectory of the race for the White House.
The Romney campaign confirmed Thursday that all of the events on the visit — Romney’s first to Colorado in seven weeks — will take place in Denver.
No additional details about the locations for the events are available.
Since Monday, as Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign struggled to manage yet another unexpected controversy, conservative hand-wringing intensified as Republican partisans worried aloud if there’s any way for their candidate to turn things around.
In Colorado, prominent conservatives far enough removed from the campaign to speak freely and honestly asked the same question about Romney: where has he been?
“President Obama has been here so much he’s probably paying property taxes at this point,” Independence Institute President Jon Caldara told me on Tuesday. “I can’t even remember the last time Mitt Romney’s been here.”
A check of the calendar shows that it’s been 49 days since Romney set foot in Colorado soil on Aug. 2 for a rally at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds (although, in fairness, Romney was scheduled to campaign in Pueblo last Sunday but cancelled the event after a small plane crash shut down the airport there).
“Romney doesn’t seem to be out there campaigning enough,” said former Reagan speechwriter and conservative columnist Peggy Noonan in a blistering column earlier this week.
Colorado, where polls show a statistical dead heat, is one of just a few swing states where Romney has a chance to put a state that went for Obama four years ago in his column — an increasingly make-or-break proposition for Romney given the president’s expanding lead in other battleground states like Ohio and Virginia.
Since Romney’s last campaign stop here, Obama has spent parts of five days in Colorado holding seven events: rallies in Denver and Grand Junction on Aug. 8; rallies in Pueblo and Colorado Springs on Aug. 9; a rally in Fort Collins on Aug. 28, the first night of the Republican National Convention; a rally in Boulder on Sept. 2 on the eve of the Democratic National Convention; and a post-convention rally in Golden last Thursday, Sept. 13.
The GOP ticket’s only presence during that time was an Aug. 14 rally featuring vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan at Lakewood High School.
“I think these kinds of campaign visits absolutely matter,” former Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams told FOX31 Denver on Wednesday. “It makes a difference to people when they see these candidates coming to their communities. It goes a long way toward getting your supporters excited and getting those voters who are still on the fence to take another look.
“I think Mitt Romney needs to be here, and he needs to be in the Jefferson County and Arapahoe County suburbs, not in Pueblo.”
Romney last campaigned in Arapahoe County in February, two days before the Feb. 6 caucuses that were won by Rick Santorum.
A slower campaign schedule
Romney, who rarely holds more than one campaign rally a day, has spent several days since the conventions off the trail, attending fundraisers and prepping for the debates behind closed doors.
By the numbers, 12 days have elapsed since the DNC wrapped up in Charlotte and the fall campaign began in earnest. Over that time, Romney has held just seven campaign events and delivered two policy speeches.
Four years ago, in the 12 days following the end of the RNC in St. Paul, Minn., Sen. John McCain and Obama held more than 20 public campaign events — each.
Romney’s campaign, running out of time to change the trajectory of the race, appears to have realized that it can’t afford to wait for, or to rely on the first presidential debate in Denver on Oct. 3, to make its a move.
So Romney will be hitting the campaign trail more often, according to a Politico report Wednesday night.
More Mitt? Or less?
Campaign sources who spoke to Politico said that the next six weeks will be focused on explaining in simpler, more specific terms how Romney’s policies will improve the lives of ordinary people.
Aides also told Politico that Romney will appear more often at joint appearances with his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, whose selection in August energized the ticket and gave the campaign a boost in the polls, however brief.
But, if there’s any correlation between campaign stops and poll numbers, Romney might be wise to stay away.
Colorado is the one swing state where Obama has not expanded his lead over Romney in the last two weeks. As polls show Ohio, Virginia and Florida trending toward the president, the race in Colorado remains well within the margin of error in most polls.
Romney has spent an inordinate amount of time campaigning in Ohio, Virginia and Florida, but not Colorado.
So maybe the answer isn’t more Mitt — it’s less.