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Romney campaigns in Pennsylvania despite state slipping away

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at American Legion Post 176 in Springfield, Virginia
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at American Legion Post 176 in Springfield, Virginia

By Sam Youngman

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Republican candidate Mitt Romney raised money and slammed President Barack Obama's Middle East policy on Friday in a rare campaign appearance in Pennsylvania, a former swing state that he admitted was now difficult for him to win on November 6.

Once highly competitive, Pennsylvania has been tilting toward Obama for months and he leads polls by around eight percentage points.

Romney's campaign is now fighting to make sure battleground states like Ohio and Virginia do not go the way of Pennsylvania, as Obama opens a lead in national and some state polls.

"We really would shock people if early in the evening of November 6, it looked like Pennsylvania was going to come our way," Romney told a meeting of donors.

Closing his remarks, however, Romney proclaimed: "On November 6, I'm going to win Pennsylvania, and I'm going to become the next president."

The former Massachusetts governor is trying to stabilize his campaign to counter a drop in opinion polls after a lackluster voter reaction to the Republican convention and Romney's choice of running mate, Paul Ryan.

A secretly recorded video in which Romney disparaged 47 percent of U.S. voters as dependent on federal aid also set back the former business executive, and he now trails Obama by 44 percent to 50 percent in Friday's Gallup daily tracking poll.

Hitting home a common theme of his in recent days, Romney accused Obama of failing to lead in the Middle East and said the United States is "at the mercy of events" around the world.

Flanked by cadets, Romney targeted Obama at the Valley Forge Military Academy, his second speech to a military audience after addressing an American Legion post in Virginia on Thursday.

Seizing on a remark Obama made last weekend during an interview with CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" program, Romney charged that the Democrat does not have the seriousness to deal with events in the Middle East.

Obama had said there will be "bumps in the road" as the governments in the Middle East take different forms following the Arab Spring.

"I don't consider 20 or 30,000 people dying in Syria just a bump in the road," Romney said. "Or a Muslim Brotherhood president in Egypt a bump in the road. I don't consider the killing of our diplomats in Libya as a bump in the road. And I sure as heck don't consider Iran becoming nuclear a bump in the road."

(Editing By Alistair Bell and Philip Barbara)

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