Scores of "Romney/Ryan" signs lined the entrance road to the Blair County Convention Center.
Fox News reported rising Republican poll numbers on lobby televisions.
And in the E.G. "Bud" Shuster Ballroom, enthusiasm was even higher as a crowd of 200 applauded wildly when Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, took the podium for a donor lunch on Monday.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, speaks Monday afternoon at a fundraiser for her husband’s campaign at the Blair County Convention Center in Altoona.
The donors not only clapped, they dug deep into their wallets. Final figures weren't available, but multiple sources told the Mirror the event raised nearly $400,000.
"This far exceeds anything we've done before," U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th, told the invitation-only crowd in his introduction. "I look around the room: There are many, many people here who built their own businesses."
Shuster confirmed his earlier prediction that the luncheon would shatter central Pennsylvania political fundraising records.
Ann Romney:?Pennsylvania still 'in play'
ELIZABETHTOWN - Ann Romney is telling voters in Pennsylvania that she believes the state, and its 20 electoral votes, can be won by her husband, Mitt.
Asked by WGAL-TV whether she believes Pennsylvania is in play in the closing weeks of the campaign, Romney said, "I certainly do. That's why I'm here and there's a strong message out there. Some states that didn't look like they were in play before are in play again now."
Her remarks were made in an interview ahead of a rousing rally at Elizabethtown College, which drew an enthusiastic crowd of what organizers said was about 900 people.
In an interview with Pittsburgh's KDKA, Romney said the state "is important to us."
- The Associated Press
"I don't consider it a donation," event organizer Michael A. Fiore said. "It's an investment."
Guests gave money in tiers; the most generous donors got a face-to-face meeting with the first-lady hopeful. Monday's fundraiser dwarfs the $101,000 total that, according to the Federal Election Commission, the greater Altoona area has pumped into presidential campaigns so far this year.
Attendees included supporters from several counties surrounding Blair.
"I know why you're here. ... You're here because you're afraid," Romney said in a brief address, flanked by American flags at the lectern.
They are afraid, she said, of what will happen over the next four years if voters don't choose her husband over President Barack Obama.
Even though Mitt Romney is currently trailing in Pennsylvania polls, Republicans believe they will seize the day in the state on Nov. 6.
"We're going to have a good shot at winning Pennsylvania," Ann Romney said to more applause. "We're so excited."
For Sarah Szczechowicz, a freshman at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Ebensburg, the trip yielded a photo with Ann Romney, who stood smiling, close behind the 14-year-old in her school uniform.
"It's cool," Szczechowicz said, laughing, "and it kind of gets me out of some classes."
Others weren't so lucky: The Romney campaign granted brief pre-luncheon interviews only to three TV news stations, with no print reporters given access to the guest of honor.
"She's a genuine lady," Fiore, who spent close to 45 minutes with the candidate's wife, said.
The party broke up soon after Ann Romney left the dais. Dressed in a pink jacket and scarf, with Carrie Underwood's "All-American Girl" playing over loudspeakers, she disappeared into the crowd as guests chatted excitedly among beef-carving stations.
Romney had to keep a tight schedule: It was 1 p.m., and she was expected for a campaign stop in Elizabethtown - east of Harrisburg - just two hours later.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.