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Romney Campaign Official: We Could Win Without Florida

There are lots of ways to get to 270 and they don't all involve Florida's 29 electoral votes, according to Rich Beeson, the national political director for the Mitt Romney Campaign.

Beeson, speaking with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on Tuesday, says the Sunshine State would be nice to have in the red column, but it's not a sine qua non for clinching victory in November.

"You never want to say that one state is critical to a win," Beeson says. "Obviously Florida is a critical state to us, but there are other ways to get past 270."

While Florida remains a tossup, the latest CNN/Time Magazine/ORC poll gives President Obama an edge. Of likely voters surveyed, 50 percent back the president to 46 percent for Gov. Romney. Of course, an expected bounce from the GOP's Tampa convention has yet to be factored in.

Beeson says the map is "more wide open than I've seen it in a long time" and one of the messages he wants this week's convention to convey is that the race is closer than many people might think.

"It is within the margin of error in virtually every target state," he tells Inskeep.

Just look at Wisconsin. It was in play even before native son Rep. Paul Ryan was added to the ticket earlier this month. "It's a state that Republicans have not won since 1984 when Ronald Reagan won every state but one," he says.

And Iowa. "a state that launched Barack Obama in the Iowa caucuses, it voted for him, he won by nine points in 2008 and right now it's a tossup."

The convention is aimed at getting Gov. Romney reintroduced to the American people, who have been bombarded by hundreds of millions of dollars worth of attack ads, "well over 99 percent" of which have been negative, Beeson says.

"So, that's what people are seeing and hearing out there and as this convention progresses and America is introduced to Gov. Romney and his family, I think you will find people liking what they are seeing and doing," he says.

Asked why his campaign continues to run an ad suggesting that President Obama has "gutted" welfare reform, despite the claim being labeled a distortion by Annenberg's and "pants on fire" by PolitiFact, Beeson says it's really just a question of how you parse things.

Nine governors have sent letters to President Obama asking that the work requirement, putting in place as part of an overhaul of welfare during the Clinton administration, not be waived, Beeson points out. Here's a bit of the back and forth:

Inskeep: "Doesn't the change mean that the governors can choose or can apply to change the work requirement as opposed to being forced to remove it?"

Beeson: "Again, that still is a change."

Inskeep: "But it's not, quote, 'they just send you your check,' which is what the ad says."

Beeson: (laughs) "I think reasonable people can have a disagreement over this but he [Obama] has significantly changed what President Clinton put in in 1996."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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