Mitt’s Sleepless California Dreaming

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Yesterday in Nashville, Mitt Romney was losing his voice. This morning in Charleston, West Virginia, he was losing his ability to speak. “By the way, you will hear me saying the wrong word on occasion,” he told a group of Republican delegates, who had gathered for the state’s nominating convention. “The reason is lack of sleep.”

Romney’s late-breaking strategy to refocus his efforts on California came at a cost last night. The candidate, and his traveling press corps, only had about four hours of downtime on a red eye flight from a last-minute rally in Long Beach. Landing in Appalachia just after 5 a.m., Romney then got a couple hours to shower and shave at a Holiday Inn, and it was back on the trail in West Virginia, a small state where Romney is counting on a win at today’s state GOP convention. Romney is the only candidate who has invested heavily in the coal-mining state. He hired a consultant here in 2006, and a full-time staffer in the summer of 2007. “We are the only ones with a ground operation,” said John McCutcheon, one of Romney’s consultants in the state. By midday, West Virginia GOPers will vote to assign 18 of its 30 delegates. Nine more delegates will be chosen after a state-wide primary in May primary. Three other at-large delegates have already committed to Romney.

But a win here would be little more than symbolic for Romney. The state that really matters is the one he left behind last night, California, where some polls suggest his support is surging. “I think I have a darned good chance of winning California,” Romney told his West Virginian supporters Tuesday morning. On Monday, in Nashville, Romney went even farther, predicting that he would win the nomination if he can just pick up California. “If I win California,” he said, “that means you are going to have a conservative in the White House.”

To get more of a Mitt fix, click here. I posted a story last night about Romney’s final campaign push and his cautious approach to watching the Superbowl.