By Justin Sink
Despite his confident posturing, it's not clear the Republican nominee believes he has a shot in the Keystone State. Neither the campaign nor affiliated super-PACs have been running advertising in Pennsylvania, and a poll from CBS News and The New York Times earlier this week gave the president a 12-point lead in the state.
Still, Romney used the event — held at the Valley Forge Military Academy — to again press the president on foreign policy and looming sequestration cuts. A new poll released Friday by Fox News showed a plurality of voters now disapprove of the president's handling of the embassy attack in Libya, by 43-39 percent — evidence that Republican attacks on the issue might be gaining traction.
Romney referenced the president's "60 Minutes" interview in which he discussed "bumps in the road" as the Middle East embraces democracy, again hitting President Obama over his phrasing.
"I don't consider 20 or 30 thousand people in Syria dying a bump in the road ... I don't consider the killing of our diplomat in Libya a bump in the road. And I sure as heck don't consider Iran becoming nuclear a bump in the road," Romney said.
Earlier in the week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Republican attacks on the president's phrasing were "profoundly offensive" and amounted to a "desperate attempt to grasp at words and phrases."
"The president was referring to the transformations in the region to this process that has only began less than two years ago, as we saw in Tunisia, and continues to this day with remarkable transformations occurring in countries around the region," Carney said. "And obviously in these countries there are huge challenges, huge obstacles to the kinds of change that the people in these countries are demanding, to the kinds of governments that are democratic in nature and responsive to the interests of average citizens in these countries."
Romney also used the speech to hammer Obama over looming sequestration cuts, saying it was "difficult to lead the world when you have a president who wants to cut a trillion — that's a thousand billion dollars — from the military."
As he had during recent stops in Ohio and Virginia, the Republican nominee told supporters the number of jobs — 39,000 — that could be lost in the state if the deep cuts to defense are implanted.
"What the president is doing is severe for the people of Pennsylvania," Romney says. "It’s severe for the entire world."
Romney added that he didn't "know how a single person going to this institution could vote for the incumbent for president" because of sequestration and general economic struggles.
"On both fronts, this president's policies have not worked," Romney said.
Obama has called on Congress to reach a compromise to avoid the sequestration cuts. Republicans want to offset the cost with additional cuts to social programs, while Democrats have suggested raising taxes on the richest Americans.
"Democrats have to understand we're going to need some additional spending cuts, and Republicans have to understand we're going to need some additional revenues," Obama told The Virginian-Pilot last month.
And in a statement Friday, the Obama campaign said Romney's charge that the president supported sequestration cuts was unfair.
"Mitt Romney’s campaign said that they wouldn’t be dictated by fact checkers, and that much was clear from his remarks in Pennsylvania today," Obama spokesman Danny Kanner said. "He falsely accused the President of supporting automatic defense cuts that could be prevented if Republicans in Congress, including Romney’s running mate, would drop their refusal to ask for a penny more from millionaires and billionaires."