With national attention once again on Pennsylvania amid back-to-back weekend appearances by the GOP presidential ticket, statewide candidates also were fighting for some recognition.
Republican attorney general candidate David Freed took the stage at both vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s Harrisburg area event Saturday and Mitt Romney’s mega-rally in Bucks County Sunday evening.
There he told the party faithful about the outside money coming into his race by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and support for his opponent from former President Bill Clinton.
“Well, I’ve got a message for Clinton and for Mayor Bloomberg — Pennsylvania is going to tell you who’s going to be the next attorney general!” he shouted to the cheering crowd on Saturday.
His appearances followed a Friday news conference in Harrisburg, where a half-dozen GOP district attorneys offered a hearty defense for their colleague, who still trails by double-digits in recent polling.
They proclaimed that Freed’s tenure as Cumberland County district attorney since 2006 has been critical experience while Democrat Kathleen Kane’s 12 years as an assistant district attorney with the Lackawanna County prosecutor’s office doesn’t measure up.
“Kathleen Kane was an excellent assistant district attorney, a prosecutor,” Dauphin County Ed Marsico said. “There’s hundreds of assistant DAs across the state that do a great job, are great trial attorneys, but I think the difference is glaring between someone like Dave who served as DA for several years and someone who hasn’t.”
They also disparaged the executive-type experience that Kane has pointed to in the past, such as leading a regional insurance fraud task force and serving on the board of several non-profits.
(Voters turning on their televisions last week heard a similar message in Freed’s first negative spot, which disparges her experience and accuses the Democrat of lying about an endorsement and campaign contributions.)
Kane spokesman Josh Morrow fired back that the criticism was unfounded, pointing to her solid support in public-opinion polls.
“The reason why Kathleen Kane has led in every poll conducted since the primary is because Pennsylvanians know she’ll be a tough independent watchdog,” Morrow said in a statement. “And the voters won’t be persuaded by the Harrisburg establishment’s defense of Dave Freed.”
Kane spent the weekend in southeastern Pennsylvania, shaking hands alongside U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in Philadelphia on Saturday and talking to union members in Montgomery County on Sunday.
At the International Union of Operational Engineers Local 542, she — along with Casey, state Treasurer Rob McCord, and GOP congressmen Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick — thanked workers for their support, and gave a closing pitch that focused on electing an independent prosecutor for attorney general.
“We have to stop playing politics in the Office of Attorney General,” she said. “There are laws in this commonwealth that are meant to protect working men and women but they have been ignored by the past attorney generals because of special interests, because of their own beliefs, because they don’t believe in working families, they don’t believe in unions.
“Well, I do,” she continuted. “I will enforce all of the laws that protect you and protect your families.”
Afterwards, Kane said she’s been enthused by recent crowds. As for last week’s announcement by current Attorney General Linda Kelly in the Penn State child sexual abuse case, she said the latest grand jury report changes nothing from her earlier pledges of investigating how that probe has been managed.
“I’ve said from the beginning that I would start from the inception of what happened, and I will end with the present, working on the truth,” she said.
Kane will start her final day on the trail in Pittsburgh and end it in Scranton, where Clinton also will be rallying support.
Freed will be criss-crossing the state along with other state GOP candidates, starting in the southeast and ending with a Green Tree rally with Gov. Tom Corbett.