Living rooms across Pennsylvania are about to be blitzed with ads from Mitt Romney.
The GOP frontrunner's campaign, who is dedicating both the candidate's time and resources in the Keystone state ahead of the April 24 primary, has purchased $2.9 million in airtime to run three weeks of commercials in the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Erie, Altoona and Philadelphia media markets, reports Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
The Romney campaign will also soon begin running ads in the Pittsburgh market, Zito writes.The effort quantifies just how seriously the Romney campaign is taking the Pennsylvania contest. A win in the state would effectively shut down his last fighting rival, Rick Santorum, who would find it difficult, if not impossible, to bounce back from a loss in his home state.
In speeches, Romney has already moved on to the battle with President Obama, treating Santorum as a nonentity. At three separate events in Pennsylvania this week, Romney reserved all of his criticism for Obama.
The ads, however, may do all the Santorum attacking for Romney. In previous close contests, Romney has slammed Santorum for past support of earmarks, unions and former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. The Super PAC supporting Romney, Restore our Future, is already running Santorum attack ads in the state. It made a little more than $70,000 buy on March 29.
Santorum has vowed to press on in Pennsylvania, contending that if he wins the important Northeast battleground state he can go on to win more conservative states, including delegate-rich Texas, in May.
Santorum held a strong lead in public opinion polls over Romney among Pennsylvania Republican voters for the last fews months, but that's slipping away as voters view Romney as the inevitable, and most electable, nominee.
Most polls now show the primary race tightening and a Public Policy Polling survey Thursday had Romney ahead by 5 percent.
Romney and Santorum are expected to make many public appearances in the state in the coming weeks. On Tuesday, Santorum will hold a morning rally in Bedford and in the eveningparticipate in a discussion on religious liberty with Christian broadcaster James Dobson at Lancaster Bible College.