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Romney within striking distance of Obama in Pennsylvania, poll shows

| Sunday, June 24, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

HERSHEY — Pennsylvania Republicans celebrated news on Saturday that a poll done for the state party by a professional pollster shows GOP nominee Mitt Romney within striking distance of President Obama in the Keystone State.

Party Chairman Rob Gleason and other party leaders told state committee members meeting here that Romney is only five points behind Obama in Pennsylvania in the poll provided to the GOP last week.

“This state is very much in play for November,” said Bob Asher of Montgomery County, a fundraiser and national committeeman representing Pennsylvania. “It will not be conceded by the Romney campaign.” The poll wasn't available.

Officials said it was conducted by Susquehanna Polling, a Harrisburg-based polling company headed by pollster James Lee.

Lee could not be reached yesterday. He is one of the state's top pollsters.

The Susquehanna poll shows the “distinct possibility” Romney can carry the state, Allegheny County Republican Chairman Jim Roddey said.

Based on other polls, Romney is making headway in Pennsylvania.

The web site Real Clear Politics, which collects polls from across the nation, shows Obama up by an average of 8 percent in Pennsylvania.

Obama led by as many as 12 points in Pennsylvania in a Franklin & Marshall College poll conduced May 29 through June 6.

What's happened is the public has begun to focus on the economy, said Dick Stewart, a New Cumberland attorney and chairman of the Central Pennsylvania Caucus, the largest GOP delegation in the state.

“If we have four more years of Obama, we'll be like Greece,” Stewart said.

Democratic Party spokesman Mark Nicastre defended Obama's record on the economy.

“The facts here are indisputable,” Nicastre said. “President Obama rescued the economy from the brink of collapse, reversing what was a free fall of job loss that he inherited from the previous administration started by the very policies Mitt Romney wants to go back to,” he said.

“President Obama's swift action and continued leadership have since led to 27 straight months of job growth and created 4.3 million jobs,” Nicastre added.

The key to winning is capturing independent voters, Roddey said.

More independent and Democratic volunteers are showing up at GOP headquarters, Roddey said, adding he is hearing the same from other county chairmen.

If the Supreme Court this week overturns the national health care law pushed by the president, it will give Romney a boost in the polls, Roddey said.

“I think it is worth 5 percent nationwide” because Obama will have lost the centerpiece of his agenda, Roddey added.

Brad Bumsted is state Capitol reporter for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 and bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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