Romney has sent most of his Pennsylvania team to other states in recent weeks, and he has had no plan to visit, raising questions about whether he is actually playing to win the state that offers 20 electoral votes and last went Republican in the 1988 presidential election.
GOP allies also were running TV ads in Democratic-tilting Michigan in hopes of softening the ground for Romney in the final days, but there was no indication yet that the Republican himself would make a strong 11th-hour play for the state where he was born and raised. Obama's team said late Tuesday that it was answering Restore Our Future's $2 million in ads in Michigan, which has 16 electoral votes.
Obama's team cast Romney's moves into the three states, which have trended Democrat for more than 20 years, as a desperate act by a candidate who hasn't locked up the states he needs for a White House win.
"They understand they're not going to be able to win Ohio and now they're getting desperate and want to be able to put other states in play," Messina said. "We're going to win Pennsylvania, but we aren't taking anything for granted."
Romney political director Rich Beeson argued that Romney was playing to win, saying in a campaign memo: "With one week to go, and 96% of the vote on the table on Election Day in Pennsylvania, this expansion of the electoral map demonstrates that Governor Romney's momentum has jumped containment from the usual target states."
Other Republicans debated Romney's tactics.
Some GOP strategists in Washington and key states suggested the moves into Minnesota and Pennsylvania provide a cushion for the GOP candidate in case he loses Ohio or another key state.