MORRISVILLE, Pa. - With just more than 24 hours until voters can head to the polls here in Pennsylvania, Mitt Romney made a last minute stop here, drawing tens of thousands to a rally that his campaign hopes will push him to a win in a state they now see as an opportunity this Tuesday.
"This audience and your voices are being heard all over the nation," said Romney. "They're being heard in my heart. The people of America understand we're taking back the White House because we're going to win Pennsylvania!"
This is only Romney's fourteenth trip to a state that, before this campaign cycle, was traditionally hotly contested turf. Romney has taken a renewed interest in the state, going on the air with political ads here and sending a series of surrogates to stump in the state. Tonight's event, Romney's second since the Republican National Convention in August, his last coming in September, was only announced on Friday, pulled together amid a whirlwind of other swing state visits in the final push before Election Day.
Despite the last-minute nature of the event, more than 25,000 people stood outside - some said for more than four hours in near-freezing temperatures - to hear Romney speak. But when Romney got stuck in Ohio longer than expected due to what the campaign said was airport delays, many supporters left before Romney finished speaking, some noting the pain of standing in the cold for so long with no shield from the wind.
But the overall sentiment was one of excitement - several in the crowd saying that they were pleased that the candidate had come to the state, a visit that to many was unexpected.
Romney's wife Ann expressed her own excitement at being back in the state, urging voters to pledge their support for her husband.
"This campaign is drawing to a close and what a wonderful welcome that you've given us and what energy you've given us to know that we can finish this race strong," said Mrs. Romney, who herself has been dispatched to the state on her own campaign schedule in mid-October. "We are so excited about Tuesday and we're so excited to be in Pennsylvania!"
Earlier today, one of Romney's senior advisors Kevin Madden said that Buck's County, the site of tonight's rally, is one of the "collar counties around Philadelphia where there is concentration of swing voters and have a big impact on how you win the state."
Recent polls still show Obama with a slight edge in the state, but still under the fifty percent mark. President Obama won the state by ten points over Sen. John McCain during the 2008 election.
"We're in a better position in that area and it could have a real impact on whether or not we win that state," Madden said, adding that he thinks Romney is in a "really good position" to win Pennsylvania.
"We see it as a great opportunity and traveling there today we think can help make a difference," he said. "And this is actually the perfect time given that you're 48 hours from people making a decision, given that that they don't have early voting there."
Appearing in the southeastern part of the state, just three miles from the border of New Jersey, Romney did not miss his chance to give a shout out to well-known Republican N.J. Gov. Chris Christie for his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the super storm that left many families here without power and devastated nearby regions. Christie, a Romney supporter, made headlines last week not only for the storm but for his outright praise of President Obama.
"Thanks also to the governors that are dealing with this tragedy, particularly the Governor of New Jersey, Gov. Christie," said Romney to applause. "He's giving it all of his heart and his passion to help the people of his state. They're in a hard way, and we appreciate his hard work. Thank you, Governor."