Mitt Romney ducks protesters, Ed Rendell at Quakertown Wawa

It’s a good thing Pennsylvania is home to a lot of Wawas – for Mitt Romney’s sake, at least.

The GOP presidential hopeful pulled an Eric Cantor yesterday, skipping out on a scheduled appearance at a Quakertown Wawa after getting wind that a couple hundred protesters were awaiting him – among them, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

Rendell and other notable state Democrats held a press conference next to the Wawa in advance of Romney’s planned pit stop yesterday, denouncing his economic record in what many say was an attempt to throw him off-message.

It appears to have worked.

“In Pennsylvania today, Mitt Romney retreated from his planned bus tour route when faced with having to answer for his failed record as governor of Massachusetts,” a statement issued yesterday by Obama for America-Pennsylvania said.

“Rather than address the assembled crowd at his planned stop in Quakertown, lay out a single new idea to create jobs now, or answer reporters’ questions about the issues of the day, Romney instead posed for photos with cows and joked about how his administration systematically destroyed public records when he was governor.”

Romney’s advance team set up a microphone at the Wawa on John Fries Highway in anticipation of his 12:40 p.m. address, but Romney instead held a last-second 15-minute meet-and-greet at another, less contentious Wawa store four miles away on Route 309, according to The Morning Call.

The paper reported that after Romney ordered a sandwich – asking for a meatball “sub” before quickly correcting himself – he had this to say about the abrupt about-face: “I understand I had a surrogate over there already, so we decided to pick a different place. My surrogate is former Gov. Rendell, who said we could win Pennsylvania.”

The Quakertown visit, along with two other stops in Pennsylvania yesterday, comprised day two of Romney’s five-day “Believe in America: Every Town Counts” bus tour targeting six states won by President Barack Obama in 2008.

And the Wawa-gate mess is most likely not the last time Romney will encounter opposition during his travels. A chunk of yesterday’s protestors were with the Democratic National Committee, formerly chaired by Rendell, which has waged its own counter-Romney bus tour.

“The Democratic National Committee is advancing the route Mitt Romney is traveling over the coming days on their ‘Romney Economics: The Middle Class Under the Bus’ [tour] to discuss Mitt Romney’s real economic record and highlight the broken promises Romney made while running for governor of Massachusetts for more jobs, less debt, and smaller government – the same promises he is making today,” DNC said in a statement.

Also bussed in to speak out were Philadelphians from community coalition Fight for Philly and Lower Bucks County advocates with Pennsylvania Working Families.

According to The Morning Call, many Romney supporters came out as well and were also left in the lurch, with no official announcement issued from his campaign about the change in itinerary.

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