Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney kicks off a new multi-state bus tour Saturday in Virginia, a state where voters are split almost even between Romney and President Barack Obama.
Romney last visited northern Virginia in late June. Polls show him running slightly behind Obama in the commonwealth, so Saturday’s visit is critical, but Democrats are on the move, too.
Trains will stop rolling through Manassas for a short time as Romney holds a rally at the pavilion alongside the tracks. Mada Hill-Winston, who staffed a tent there Friday for an event held by her church, said she’ll stop by the rally because she wants to get a better sense of Romney’s personality.
“He doesn’t come across as very personable,” she said.
Better connecting with Virginians as he lays out his plans to strengthen the middle class is an important part of Romney’s tour, one that will stop in the commonwealth’s three most vote rich areas -- Norfolk, near Richmond and northern Virginia. Gov. Bob McDonnell will be alongside. He hopes this visit will help show voters another side of Romney.
“I’m going to be with Gov. Romney and help to tell his story and help to get people to see that this is an enormously successful person who has lived the American dream and therefore understands the American dream, but he’s a real person,” McDonnell said.
Rolling just ahead of Romney will be a bus created by the Democratic National Committee wrapped with slogan reading “Romney Economics: The Middle Class Under the Bus.” It started from Alexandria Friday, headed for the battleground states set for Romney’s tour.
“Mitt Romney’s message is clear,” former Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello said. “He wants to raise your taxes so that he can cut his own. Well, let’s have that debate here in Virginia and across the country.”
Romney’s Virginia communications director, Curt Cashour, called the DNC bus a gimmick.
“This plan is just another attempt to distract from President Obama’s failed economic policies, and we have 42 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent,” he said. “What he’s done hasn’t worked.”