On the eve of a battleground state showdown that will feature both presidential campaigns in Ohio on the same day, a top aide to Mitt Romney held a press briefing to define the stakes of the election there — and preview their message.
Asked whether intra-party squabbles in the Ohio GOP could impede Romney's efforts there, strategist Russ Schriefer responded, "I think they all know there's no state that is more important than Ohio, and we're counting on them to do their best and we know they will."
The declaration of Ohio's strategic predominance may have come as a surprise to Republicans in other key battleground states. Ana Navarro, a prominent Miami-based Republican strategist, Tweeted shortly after Schriefer made the remark: "They say that to all the swing states."
In order to win the state, the Romney campaign will have to grapple with the fact that economic conditions in Ohio are improving — trend that could undermine the Republican's core message.
Schriefer previewed the message they hope will solve that problem. The two-part strategy: Tie Romney to the policies that have helped, and keep credit away from President Obama.
"Certainly, Governor Kasich has been helpful to improving the economy in Ohio," Schriefer said. "When you have Republican governors who encourage business, things are better... Governor Romney is going to be more like Governor Kasich."
He continued: "The problem is they still have this weight of the White House and the Obama administration on top of them... What regulation are they going to think up next? What new tax are they going to think up next in order to create more government?"
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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