Josh Romney, the third son of the Republican presidential nominee, was campaigning across southwestern Pennsylvania Thursday, courting votes for the man he calls "my hero."
Mr. Romney appeared in Rochester, Beaver County, for the first stop of a bus tour that was to take him on to Butler and Indiana.
As the big blue Romney bus pulled up to a parking lot next to a GOP headquarters, a crowd of about 200 cheered Mr. Romney's message that his father wold restore the nation's economy by ousting a President Barack Obama, who, he said "is not focused on getting America back to work."
The younger Romney spoke after a week in which the GOP campaign has been rocked by reaction to the leaked video in which his father dismisses the "47 percent" of Americans who he said would vote for President Obama because they are dependent on the government.
In an interview after his Rochester appearance, Mr. Romney rejected the suggestion that recent news cycles represent a problem for the campaign to overcome.
"I actually think these last few weeks have been a great opportunity for people to see how different my Dad's views are than President Obama's," he said. "I think it's been an eventful couple of weeks but potentially [a] very helpful couple of weeks to allow people to see what my Dad's plan is."
Beaver County, once a traditional Democratic bastion, has become increasingly friendly territory for national and statewide GOP candidates. Sen. John McCain won this congressional district easily four years ago, even as Mr. Obama was carrying the state by an overall landslide.
An older community, Beaver also is home to a disproportionately large share of recipients of government payments of one kind or another. Mr. Romney dismissed the notion that such voters might not be receptive to his father's warnings against government dependence.
"To people who are relying on Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, those people who are truly in need, my dad has a vision -- the only vision -- to really save those programs for future generations," he said. "His plan is to make sure that people my age or my children's age will have the opportunity to receive those government benefits. President Obama, right now is promising a lot but he can't deliver; his programs are going to run out of money. They're unfunded."
Asked if his presence, as opposed to that of his father, was further evidence that Pennsylvania had slipped in the campaign's priority list, Mr. Romney said, "Absolutely not."
"If Pennsylvania was off the map I wouldn't be here. ... We're going to win this state."
Politics editor James O'Toole: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1562.