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Mitt Romney is paying his dues on behalf of John McCain

April 9, 2008 | 10:50 am

The buzz these days in the Republican vice presidential sweepstakes may surround Condoleezza Rice, but Mitt Romney is doing the type of grit work that will keep his name in the mix -- as well as potentially pay long-term political dividends for himself.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney now supporting Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the Republican presidential race and Romney is going to Pennsylvania for McCainJohn McCain's campaign just announced that the former Massachusetts governor -- who, having failed in his own White house bid, must have time on his hands -- will travel to southeastern Pennsylvania to make a speech Thursday evening touting the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

We can't imagine they'll be turning them away at the doors of the Willow Valley Resort and Conference Center in Lancaster (a city that boasts of the Dutch Wonderland theme park). The state's GOP primary on April 22 will be simply a rubber-stamp event, and for most normal folks it's still a little early to get fired up for the general election campaign.

Romney's appearance, however, signals that the McCain camp sees Pennsylvania as a "blue" state that it can win come November, despite the much-publicized bump in the number of registered Democrats there.

Indeed, a poll released today by Strategic Vision shows McCain barely trailing Hillary Clinton in a fall matchup, 45% to 42%, and running ahead of Barack Obama, 48% to 41%. (In the impending Democratic primary, the survey, in line with most other recent polls, shows Clinton with a shrinking lead over Obama, 47% to 42%).

Romney is speaking at an event sponsored by local Republicans -- the folks ...

the McCain campaign need to get fully on board before launching an all-out fight in a battleground state such as Pennsylvania. Romney's willingness to play the good soldier in communing with the GOP base can't hurt his veep prospects.

And even if he gets passed over (as recommended by an ad campaign recently begun by a group of social conservatives), such efforts obviously serve Romney's purposes of one day again seeking his party's presidential nod.

-- Don Frederick

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