As I note today in my story about the parties' get-out-the-vote efforts, President Barack Obama (Reuters photo above with Joe Sestak) will be making his second visit to Philadelphia in three weeks Saturday to rally the Democratic base -- and First Lady Michelle Obama will follow a couple days later. There are several reasons Obama is targeting Pennsylvania, and Philly in particular, as the Washington Post's Anne E. Kornblut points out in her piece going behind the scenes on the president's closing stretch travel itinerary.
The always quotable Gov. Ed Rendell told Kornblut that he would have liked to have Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign -- but since secretaries of state, by custom, don't get involved in such matters, the first lady (whom Sestak requested a while back) will do just fine:
The focus on the city reflects the White House view that Philadelphia is a no-brainer: Tucked into the corner of a large swing state with important Senate, gubernatorial and House races, it is a natural base for Obama to speak to the state's electorate, which has 1 million more registered Democrats than Republicans.
It doesn't hurt that it is also a critical swing state in the 2012 presidential race, perhaps another reason Obama has made seven trips there since taking office, according to a tally maintained by CBS News chronicler Mark Knoller.
Said Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.): "Philly has a multitude of electoral tentacles that suit well the Democratic party's efforts and the outcome of the election. It's really not a surprise."
Another part of the calculation by the White House was recent poll numbers, which showed Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak gaining enough ground on Republican Pat Toomey to make a presidential visit worthwhile.
"I think he can have a significant effect on Democratic turnout, which will affect the outcome," said Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D), who said he communicated with White House officials about getting Obama to Philadelphia again - although he said his more pressing request was for a visit from the first lady.
"My first choice would be Hillary, but she's not allowed to campaign, of course," Rendell said of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Michelle is enormously popular."
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