DOSWELL, Va. — Presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Senate candidate George Allen rallied the GOP faithful today to begin a final joint push across this crucial battleground state.
In the second event of a three-stop tour, several hundred supporters donning stickers for Romney, Allen and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) crowded into the expansive Farm Bureau Center outside Richmond to hear the nominees for president and Senate.
Allen, who is seeking his former Senate seat, and Virginia’s top elected officials preceded Romney on the stage, which was framed by a large American flag and enormous Romney signs. Each speaker, including Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and Cantor, in whose district the event took place, highlighted the urgency of the situation, with less than a week to go.
After asking the crowd whether they want four more years of higher taxes and gasoline prices, Romney said: “I know the president wants to see four more years, and that’s his chant. Ours is ‘five more days.’”
The fates of Romney and Allen, who is taking on fellow former Gov. Tim Kaine, are somewhat tied to each other. It’s unlikely Romney will win the White House without carrying the Old Dominion, and few observers see a path for Allen’s return to Capitol Hill if Romney doesn’t win Virginia. Polls released in the past week found both races in this state are nail-bitingly close.
In his second day of campaigning since superstorm Sandy, Romney encouraged the crowd to give what they could to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts. Unlike on Wednesday in Florida, today Romney made several mentions and criticisms of President Barack Obama, including what he says is the lack of a clear plan for the next four years.
“Attacking me does not create an agenda for him,” Romney said to cheers. “We actually have a plan to get this economy going.”
Allen delivered a standard stump speech, including accusing Kaine of wanting to be Obama’s Senator, not Virginia’s. He also stated that he would sponsor a bill on his first day in the Senate that opens up Virginia’s coast to oil and gas drilling.
“Let’s send a message to the world that America is open for business again,” Allen said.
The event was located on the farmland where 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat was born, and the stage was surrounded by bails of hay and John Deere tractors. The space was large enough that Romney pulled inside on his campaign bus.
“We want to be like Secretariat,” Allen said, “and you all are going to lead the way for a Triple Crown victory” for Cantor, Allen and Romney.
McDonnell, who was on Romney’s short list of potential vice presidential nominees, did his best to motivate the crowd to make phone calls, knock on doors and help turn Republican a state that gave Obama a 7-point victory in 2008.
“A month ago, Barack Obama came to Virginia and said if I don’t win this state, I won’t be president,” McDonnell said. “Will you help us keep that promise?”
State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) hyped the crowd and urged them to spend the final weekend of the campaign helping to get out the vote for Romney and Allen. The event also served as an important appearance for their own political careers. Both are running for governor next year.
Cuccinelli said it’s “important to fire Harry Reid [D-Nev.] as the [Senate] Majority Leader, and we can do that right here in Virginia by electing George Allen as the next Senator.”
Bolling finished his speech with a booming chant of “Are you ready to win?”
“This race will be won or it will be lost depending on what you and I do over the next five days,” Bolling said. “It’s time to go out there and win this thing.”
Charles Martin, 58, a telecommunications engineer from Alexandria who was raised in a Democratic household but is now a Republican, said he already voted absentee for Romney and Allen. He’ll be in Afghanistan on Nov. 6.
“I’m just not happy with the status quo,” Martin said. “I don’t think Romney’s going to take us to the moon or anything.”
Sarah Brooks, 62, a self-described conservative from Louisa County, said she decided on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election after seeing Pastor Rick Warren’s interviews with McCain and Obama. She’s backing Romney and Allen this year.
“I liked Tim Kaine a lot when I heard him speak,” she said, “but he’s not passionate about the things I am.”
Kaine is on his own final tour through Virginia and was joined on the trail today by popular Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Obama is scheduled to make his final appearance in the state in Northern Virginia on Saturday.
From Doswell, Romney and Allen were headed to Virginia Beach for their third and final joint event of the day.