Never one to let the facts* get in the way of a microphone, former Gov. Ed Rendell is making a splash by saying Mitt Romney has a chance to be the first Republican presidential candidate to win Pennsylvania in a quarter century.
From Huffington Post coverage of roundtable in New York:
On occasion, however, Rendell's pronouncements can cause headaches. When Rendell was asked, at that same event, whether the president would win the Keystone State in November, his inability to answer with a definitive yes seems likely to create one of those instances.
"It's going to be a close election. The president is not going to do well in the west. He lost 11 of 12 southwestern Democratic counties in 2008, even though he won the state by 11 points," said Rendell, who was at the event to promote his book, "A Nation of Wusses." "I think he will improve the vote there because a number of them are construction workers, etc. ... and I think they know what is going on. I think he will do better there. But I don't think he will carry there. The election will be determined by basically the four Philadelphia suburban counties."
. . . "Oh, it is definitely in play," Rendell replied. He went on about how bizarre it was to read reports that Republicans weren't making investments in the state. "Can't be right. I mean why would you do that? And why would you make that judgment now?"
We'll let Charlie Mahtesian at Politico start the takedown:
But in the southeastern region – essentially the populous Philly suburbs and exurbs but not the city itself – Romney’s numbers are far too weak to justify an investment. He trails Obama 54 percent to 31 percent.
That’s not only a very big spread, it’s a very expensive one – closing it would require a serious expenditure of cash in the pricey Philadelphia media market.
That might explain why Republicans seem so unenthusiastic about competing for a state that Rendell says "is definitely in play." It very well might be, but given the cost and the odds of winning – remember, the GOP hasn’t won the state since 1988 – the smart move might be to resist the temptation and concentrate resources elsewhere.
Of course, if Pennsylvania isn't in play Rendell's noted political acumen wouldn't get as much attention, would it?
*See: Polls, advertising spending, and both the Obama and Romney campaigns
UPDATE 11 am: "There’s 'off message.' And then there’s former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell" writes Tom Fitzgerald at the Inquirer. This morning Rendell said Hillary Clinton would have been more effective than Obama with the stimulus and health care reform.