As hard as it may be to believe, summertime often is the silliest of political seasons. That's because most voters turn off their televisions and fire up their barbeques. It's also a stressful time for politicians who try and keep the press at bay with a steady drip of minor news items, such as web advertisements or battleground office announcements.
This summer, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is kicking things off with a good old-fashioned campaign bus tour. It launches Friday in New Hampshire and then heads to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan—all states President Obama won in 2008.
It's a confident display from Romney, as most national and battleground polls show him in a virtual tie with the president. Senior Romney campaign officials acknowledge the bus tour makes stops in states that may be out of their reach, but it's a move to show that they are on the offense and are conceding nothing to the incumbent.
The retail politicking tour will also allow Romney to connect with voters in a more intimate style than major policy addresses, while also providing plenty of quality footage of the GOP nominee kissing babies and shaking hands with his sleeves rolled up.
A key part of Romney's campaign strategy is to introduce mainstream voters to the human side of Romney, who at times has been described as stiff and awkward in the media.
Obama, meanwhile, has been hitting the pavement hard in search of money. The president has held a record number of fundraisers in recent weeks, raising tens of millions of dollars. Democrats have felt under pressure to increase their fundraising efforts as Super PACs favoring Republicans have been much more prolific in their ability to raise funds.
The president has also made appearances in battleground states, most recently Ohio, to deliver policy addresses emphasizing his efforts to turn around the still-sluggish economy. His summertime challenge will be to convince the disinterested public he's making headway on the economy, while likely enduring daily attacks from Republicans.
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter.