Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is pushing to win a band of Midwestern states and trying to win over a segment of working-class voters that Democratic President Barack Obama has struggled to attract.
Romney sees unique advantages in these states, each of which has a long history of siding with Democratic presidential candidates.
His approach means that Obama will have no choice but to spend time and money defending states he carried in 2008.
To be sure, Romney faces his own hurdles in each of the states. But the opportunity sensed by him and his advisers signals that Romney's path to the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the White House in November's election may be widening.