NORFOLK, Virginia (CNN) – In a late campaign push to change the battleground map, Mitt Romney will travel to Pennsylvania on Sunday in the hopes of capturing the traditionally Democratic-leaning state. A Romney campaign official confirmed to CNN the GOP nominee will stop in the Philadelphia area Sunday afternoon.
The Pennsylvania event falls into the Romney campaign's newly adopted strategy of expanding the battleground map in the final week of the race. Top strategists to the GOP nominee targeted Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota this week for potential gains, pointing to polls in the states that show Romney gaining on the President.
A Franklin and Marshall College poll released Wednesday, for example, indicated President Obama Obama had a 49%-45% edge over his Republican opponent.
Romney's campaign began purchasing air time in the state this week–a move that was countered by Obama's team. The campaign also announced Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, will be traveling to Middletown, Pennsylvania on Saturday. The Obama campaign immediately scoffed at Romney's Pennsylvania trip as an "act of desperation."
"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going all in Pennsylvania, following the lead of every Republican presidential candidate since 1992 who have made last ditch investments in the Keystone State. Not one of them carried the state," Obama campaign northeast regional press secretary Michael Czin said in a statement.
The Romney campaign instantly fired back, accusing the president's re-election advisers of reacting from a "defensive crouch."
"We are looking at an expanded map, while the Obama campaign is pouring resources into states that were supposed to be safe for them," a Romney campaign official said.
"I totally understand why Chicago is freaking out, but I just thought they'd be better at hiding it," the official added.
In the final days before the 2008 election, then GOP nominee John McCain and his running mate, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin made campaign stops in Pennsylvania with similar hopes but to no avail.
In a strategy memo, Romney campaign officials referred to recent comments made by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell who said Democrats could let down their guards in the state, opening up the possibility of a "startling upset."
Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a Romney surrogate, predicted the GOP nominee would win the state in an interview on Fox News Thursday. Romney's upcoming visit to Pennsylvania was first reported by The Daily.