"We don't take them lightly at all," said William Barksdale, a spokesman for the company's tanker program. While EADS has cast its political fortunes with the Southeast, Barksdale said that Boeing is casting a wider political net, pointing out how many jobs throughout the country would be created if Boeing prevailed.
Both sides are battling over many of the same issues - how much American and foreign content would be in the planes, and how many jobs would be created in the United States.
While Riley said the tanker contest should be decided on merit, he acknowledged that politics cannot be ignored. In an interview, Riley said he believed that the tanker deal will go to the House and Senate floor.
"Political support will be crucial," he said. "We want to stress that the tanker will be built in Alabama and made in America."