, COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov 6 – Either he is wearing the best poker face in politics, or Mitt Romney is his own truest believer, so sure of his destiny as the next US president that he refuses to contemplate the alternative.
“Confidence” is the singular word that senior strategist Stuart Stevens used to describe the Republican nominee’s mood going into Tuesday’s election, despite polls showing a slight lead for President Barack Obama.
Nearly everyone running for higher office projects an aura of accomplishment, strength, even inevitability, knowing that charisma can translate into votes.
But plenty of real-time writing on the wall about the US election would suggest to even the most optimistic Romney backer that things may not go as planned for the challenger.
Romney has always faced an uphill climb to the 270 electoral votes needed to win, and while national polls have shown the rivals in the tightest of races, recent gains by the president have left Romney with increasingly long odds.
Obama, say experts and pollsters, has a clearer path to the nomination, especially when one looks at the battleground states where voters will determine the next president.
Obama leads in poll averages in seven of those states, including Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Of nine swing states experts say are up for grabs this year, Romney leads in just Florida and North Carolina, and by narrow margins.
But you wouldn’t know that from speaking to Romney aides, who described the former Massachusetts governor as confident and optimistic as his five-year quest for the presidency approaches its decisive moment.
“He’s very eager to lead the country,” Stevens said Monday, dismissing suggestions that the Republican nominee might be nervous on the final full day of campaigning as he puts his political fate in the hands of American voters.
According to two Romney aides, the talk in the staff section of his campaign plane simply does not turn to the prospect of a defeat.
Those who travel day in and day out with Romney – Stevens, senior advisor Kevin Madden, Romney “body man” Garrett Jackson, travelling press secretary Rick Gorka, and trip director Charlie Pearce – have been reminiscing with Romney about the best moments of his campaign, Madden and Gorka said.
“It’s been a light mood up front,” Gorka told reporters on the campaign plane Monday.
“It’s been an incredible journey. We’re very, very excited for these last events today, and we’re very, very optimistic about our chances tomorrow.”