State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

U.S. Senate candidates, working it, in the final days before election

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 5, 2012 4:03 AM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Casey is on a campaigning blitz to defend his seat from Republican challenger Tom Smith, who’s making his own final push before Election Day.

At a Republican phone bank in Cumberland County on Friday morning, Smith was there -- as a picture on the side of his giant campaign bus, and in the flesh to cheer on the supporters making calls.

“Now it’s in their hands, a lot,” said Smith. “So they’re very important. That’s the grassroots and it’s very important to me that we come out and say hello to them and encourage them, ‘cause that’s where this will be won at, in these grassroots.”

Smith said he’s troubled by the size of the national debt and the amount of deficit spending.

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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

Sen. Bob Casey called into witf-FM’s Radio Smart Talk show to point out that his own record reflects he’s not afraid to vote to cut spending.

“I voted for one trillion dollars in spending cuts. I’ll vote for more, but I’m not going to vote for spending cuts that devastate the middle class and end Medicare as we know it.”

Smith supports converting Medicare from a “government-planned system” to one in which government checks help benefit recipients cover the cost of private health care. Casey has repeatedly grouped Smith with Republican plans to bring more dramatic changes to Medicare. The incumbent has also consistently referred to his opponent as having a “radical” agenda. Smith said Friday morning his supporters don’t see it that way.

“No matter where I travel in Pennsylvania, what people want to talk about, and these people are no different, is jobs and the economy. And that is what this election’s about. And I brought forth a plan to grow the economy, and that’s what I’ve done since I was 19 years old, was run businesses,” he said, an uncharacteristically subtle knock on Casey for being what Smith calls a career politician.

Casey points to his good working relationship with Pennsylvania’s Republican junior U.S. Senator Pat Toomey at a time in which Congress is most associated with insurmountable gridlock.

“Whether it’s on working together to recommend judges to the administration, whether it’s working to make changes to the health care bill, which we’ve done together, so a number of instances when I’ve worked not only with Senator Toomey, but other Republicans, as well,” he said.

The final Franklin and Marshall College poll before the election showed support for Casey stabilizing, with the incumbent up by nine points among likely Pennsylvania voters.

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