Mitt Romney kicked-off a five-day, six-state bus tour this morning, piling staff, surrogates, and news scribes into four campaign buses for his first traditional campaign trip of the general election.
“Welcome to Day One of summer camp,” aide Rick Gorka greeted reporters this morning gathered for a bus tour briefing at Romney campaign headquarters.
The tour — named the “Every Town counts” — illustrates the slowly intensifying pace of the campaign. Since capturing the nomination in April, Romney has kept a limited public schedule. Instead, he spent most of his time in closed-door meetings, with small business-owners in swing states, rich donors at swanky fundraisers, and strategy meetings with other Republican politicians.
Romney will spend the next few days, however, reengaged in the type of retail campaigning he did during the four-month long Republican primary — hand-shaking and baby-kissing his way across at least 14 small towns and cities. After a stop at the New Hampshire farm where he announced his candidacy a year ago, there will be ice cream socials and pancake breakfasts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan.
The trip is an effort to sway undecided voters living in the smaller towns that dot critical swing states. During the primary, Romney struggled to win Republicans in rural areas who tended to favor opponent Rick Santorum.
“This is an opportunity to go to places that are little bit off the beaten path and visit towns and cities where people are really struggling in the Obama economy,” strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters gathered at Romney campaign headquarters in Boston this morning.
Republicans will join him on the campaign trail, including former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, early backers who are considered top vice presidential prospects. And he plans to have a hamburger in Ohio with Speaker John Boehner, the highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. House, according to aides.
Of course, it won’t be all road food and greasy spoons. The campaign has chartered four new buses for the event, adorned with the slogan “Every town counts.” Chartered planes will take the campaign and press corps from state to state, allowing the candidate to cover hundreds of miles in less than a week.