Mitchell Reports | April 17, 2012
>> battleground is pennsylvania . that's where mitt romney is campaigning today, ahead of next tuesday's republican primary . as republicans think they even have a shot to make a play for the keystone state , despite a big million vote democratic voter registration edge. former pennsylvania governor ed rendell an nbc political analyst. first, governor, pennsylvania , in play?
>> no question. it's not a slam dunk for the president at all. that million voter registration edge is good, we built it up, people say that makes us a blue state . in 2010 republicans swept virtually ever office on the ballot. we're a purple state . the president has good issues to go after the conservative, white democrats particularly the southwest who have tended to vote republican over the last few years. the jobs bill, construction workers , steel workers, the jobs bill will put them back to work. nothing the republicans offering will. so i think the president's going after those voters and if he gets them, if he convinces them he's got the best answers, it will be a comfortable victory.
>> john, a comfortable vick rip the president won pennsylvania 11 points last time around. you still have residual voters, the white voters, blue collar voters who tended to support hillary clinton in the primary back four years ago. are those the people out in western pennsylvania , central pennsylvania that mitt romney has a shot at?
>> you know i think pennsylvania was a blue state when governor rendell was a governor because he was a good governor for the state.
>> i agree.
>> he's agreeing with you.
>> president obama helped turn it into a red state and i think the governor's absolutely right. this is a toss-up state. i think that the white working class voters, as pointed out, are going to be hard pressed to vote for president obama . they didn't like him in the primary. i'm not sure if their lot has gotten better over the last couple of years. i think it's a state that mitt romney can win. now that rick santorum dropped out he's got a clear shot to campaign throughout the state and start with a general election message and focus on the economy. that's what pennsylvania voters care about.
>> what hasn't rick santorum endorsed mitt romney yet?
>> he wants to be president someday. i think that it takes a while for these wounds to heal. i think the appropriate time, santorum will get on board. but you know, it's not easy just to drop out of a race one day and then endorse someone the next. i think especially for someone like rick santorum is heart is on his sleeve, he put all he could into the campaign, and it's not easy to turn around and say i'll be with romney now.
>> and governor corbett, your successor, hasn't endorsed either, but pat toomey the republican senator has. what about rick santorum and his impact in pennsylvania and the governor?
>> i think he's absolutely right. it's very hard. if you've ever run for office and lost, as you know, i have, it doesn't come easy to just you know --
>> you didn't lose many.
>> it doesn't come easy to shake off the loss and say i'm for that guy who beat me up and trashed me through the primaries. i think eventually rick santorum will do. one the conservative white democrats, the independents in the philadelphia suburbs and a few moderate republicans up for grab. barack obama cleaned them up in 2008 . the question whether the campaign that the republicans have ran and governor romney's forced to run on social issues has turned those voters off so much that he has no chance to hold them. if he doesn't hole them it doesn't matter what happens in the west.
>> talking a lot of women in those suburbs.
>> right now big problem. but when you look at it even in the most optimistic polls the president still only adding four or five points. it's a horse race .
>> i think the governor's right. i would say, throughout this campaign, mitt romney 's been accused of being a massachusetts moderate which didn't necessarily work well in the republican primary but let's face it, it works pretty well in a general election and i think that throughout the campaign, conservatives were not that comfortable with mitt romney because they thought he was too moderate. but right now that plays pretty well.
>> but the positions he took during the primary don't sound like any massachusetts moderate i know.
>> we'll have to leave it there. ed rendell , john feehry