Tags: Pennsylvania | Candidate | Lies | Low | Race

Pennsylvania Candidate Lies Low in Race

Wednesday, 24 August 2005 12:00 AM

Casey has produced better early poll numbers by largely remaining out of the spotlight this summer, leaving Santorum to do the talking - and writing.

He left Santorum to pitch President Bush's Social Security proposals that have received a lukewarm response and later to talk up his new book, "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good," on one talk show after another. Casey even put a video clip of one of Santorum's TV appearances on his Web site.

Santorum has been expounding on everything from feminists (he says they undervalue motherhood) to public school classrooms (he says grouping kids all of the same age with a single adult produces a "weird socialization.") His book compares abortion rights to slaveholder rights.

Santorum, one of Bush's foot soldiers and the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said people might not support him on every issue, but they know exactly where he stands.

"People know what I stand for and why I stand for it," Santorum said during a break from his book appearance here outside Pittsburgh. "I don't think that's the case with my opponent."

Casey, the son of a former governor, served eight years as state auditor general before getting elected treasurer last year.

But despite his overwhelming success in November, Casey will have to overcome his reputation as a lackluster campaigner to beat Santorum. He suffered a tough loss in 2002 in the gubernatorial primary to Ed Rendell, now governor - a race that analysts say showed him to be a less-than-dynamic campaigner.

"That's why Rendell mopped up the floor with him," said Robert Maranto, a political science professor at Villanova University. "He's charisma-challenged. He's not as quick-witted as Santorum. He doesn't come off as well."

In a recent phone interview from his car on the way to a picnic, Casey briefly discussed his strategy for a race that could cost a combined $50 million.

"I'm going to be focused on Pennsylvania's priorities, not Washington politics and the scorched-earth partisanship and the intolerant ideology that you see too much of in Washington," he said. "Frankly, Sen. Santorum's been a big part of that, and it's all about divide and conquer and pulling people apart instead of bringing them together."

Santorum has been busy this summer honing his skills while making the rounds on TV, from C-SPAN to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

"Santorum is one of those guys like Bill Clinton, like Richard Nixon, who will do anything to win," Maranto said.

Santorum wrote his book as a counterpoint to Hillary Rodham Clinton's 1996 book, "It Takes a Village." It has sold more than 40,000 copies, according to the publisher, ISI Books.

"What happened in America so that mothers and fathers who leave their children in the care of someone else ... find themselves more affirmed by society?" Santorum wrote. "Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism, one of the core philosophies of the village elders."

The book also delves into a topic Santorum never shies away from - abortion.

"This was tried once before in America, when the liberty and happiness rights of the slaveholder were put over the life and liberty rights of the slave. But unlike abortion today, in most states even the slaveholder did not have unlimited right to kill his slave," Santorum wrote.

Pennsylvania has about 500,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans but has been a tough state to master politically. It has a Democratic governor and voted for John Kerry last year. But a majority of its national elected officials are Republican, and it has some of the most conservative abortion laws in the country.

Casey's opposition to abortion strips Santorum of the monopoly he has had on the issue; polls show Pennsylvania is about evenly divided on whether abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Another key issue in the campaign could be Iraq - more than 90 Pennsylvanians have been killed in the war.

Neil Cohen, 62, a law firm employee, said he worked on Santorum's last campaign, but on a day the senator was in this Pittsburgh suburb to sign copies of his book, Cohen said he could no longer back him.

"This nation was founded on religion, but it's not run on religion and I believe he's attempting to now and he will attempt to run this nation on a religious basis," Cohen said.

Ken Heiss, 64, who came out for one of Santorum's book-signings, said he likes the fact that Santorum makes his positions clear.

"I know what he prefers for himself, but he doesn't go around telling other people they have to be that way," said Heiss, president of a computer firm.

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Casey has produced better early poll numbers by largely remaining out of the spotlight this summer, leaving Santorum to do the talking - and writing. He left Santorum to pitch President Bush's Social Security proposals that have received a lukewarm response and later to...
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2005-00-24
Wednesday, 24 August 2005 12:00 AM
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