By Cameron Joseph - 11/04/12 02:30 PM EST
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said his home state is likely to prove decisive for the presidential election Sunday morning.
When asked by CNN's Candy Crowley if he thought there was a way Romney could win without carrying the state, he smiled.
"Probably, but I wouldn't want to risk it," he said. "No Republican ever has [won without Ohio]. And I think we're going to win Ohio, I really do."
"All the polls are going in the right direction so I'm very happy about the polling," he said. "I feel very good about Ohio. It's very close, I agree with [Chicago Mayor] Rahm Emanuel, it's going to be a very close race but I like the position that we're in, we've got a lot of momentum on our side."
President Obama has held a small but steady edge in nearly every public poll of the state in the last few weeks.
Portman admitted that the auto bailout had hurt Romney in the state, though he argued their recent ads pushing back on the auto bailout were helping the Romney campaign.
"In terms of the auto bailout, you're right," he said when Crowley asked him if the issue was costing Romney support in the state, where one in seven jobs is tied to the auto industry. "There have been a lot of ads played about the auto bailout. They aren't accurate. So that's sort of tough for us to explain to people. But the more people know about what happened with the auto bailout the more they're going to like Mitt Romney, and that's why we've got ads up now."
Emanuel, on Crowley's show before Portman, argued that Obama would do well across the Midwest. He pushed back against a new Pennsylvania poll showing the race tied there. Most other polls have shown Obama with a 4 to 6 point lead, and that pollster, Susquehanna, has long shown a much tighter race in the state than other pollsters have found.
"The engine for economic growth is happening, and I think the people of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Rust Belt, middle of America know that the president's policies are finally starting to pay off and it is not time to stomp on them," he said. "I've seen other polls that have the president at a higher margin... It's a close election. B, You nail everything down, and C, I think Pennsylvania is secure but you don't take anything for granted.
Republicans bought millions of dollars in Pennsylvania airtime this week after mostly staying off the air, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stumped there on Saturday, and Romney is heading to the state on Sunday. Most polls show Obama with a slightly shrinking but still-solid lead there, and no Republican presidential nominee has carried the state since 1988.