NAPLES, Fla. - Republican House Speaker John Boehner visited Mitt Romney's campaign office in Naples Monday, as the latest big name to stop in Southwest Florida during this year's presidential race.
"I'm here for one big reason today, and that's to thank you for all the work you're doing to turn out our voters on election day," Boehner told the crowd.
His visit comes after Vice President Joe Biden visited Fort Myers over the weekend, keeping Southwest Florida as a popular destination in 2012.
"Southwest Florida has people who are very generous, are politically active, and they give to political campaigns," said FGCU professor Dr. Peter Bergerson.
Bergerson says candidates come here knowing Southwest Florida's traditionally red reputation; their purpose here isn't necessarily to sway new votes, but to energize their existing support in a crucial swing state.
"They are putting the puzzle together for the whole state of Florida," Bergerson said. "They are trying to reinforce their base, reinforce their supporters of the importance of voting."
But the many undecided voters in this race become key on Wednesday as the candidates face off for the first time in a televised debate.
"One of the target audiences in the debate tomorrow night is going to be that percentage of voters who are soft, who are persuadable, or frankly just haven't made up their mind," Bergerson said.
At the debate, Bergerson says Romney will likely try to make the race a referendum on President Obama and the economy, while the President may try to paint the contest as a choice between the two candidates.
"One of the things I told my students is, look for the candidate who is able to close the sale," Bergerson said. "The success of one or the other candidates could really propel them these last 35 days."