Obama advisor: Romney gains merely push him toward his 'ceiling'

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- To Mitt Romney's apparent surge in polls, the Obama campaign offers this counter-argument: Momentum? What momentum?

Speaking to reporters in Iowa on Wednesday, Obama advisor David Plouffe argued that there's no evidence Romney is picking up steam in the key battleground states necessary to win. He said Romney's recent gains in polling merely show him reclaiming ground lost and approaching his "ceiling."

"Gov. Romney was not going to get 44% or 45% in battleground states," Plouffe said. "He's a major-party nominee in a divided country in a tough economy. He's going to get 47, 48, 49 in a bunch of these states."

All that's happened, he said, is that Romney has "picked up some of what he lost. But we don't consider that momentum."

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At the moment, most polling data show the two candidates close enough that both sides can make plausible arguments for why they will win the most contested states.

As the president kicks off a blitz of campaigning across seven of those states today, Plouffe is focused on pathways to 270 votes.

That combination for Obama likely needs to include Ohio, Iowa and Nevada, three states where Plouffe says the president's camp is hitting its targets.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Gov. Romney’s last trip to Nevada was this week," Plouffe said, "because it doesn’t look good for them."

Romney doesn't seem to see it the same way. Despite Obama's consistent lead in the polls, the Republican challenger continues to schedule campaign stops there.

GOP strategists say they think that just a small rise in the share of votes cast in rural parts of the state -- many with large Mormon populations -- could outweigh Obama's expected lead in the Las Vegas area.

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