Within a brief one-hour span, two U.S. congressmen, a senator, a pair of candidates for federal office and the president of the AFL–CIO spoke in Cambria County on Monday.
Their appearances highlighted the importance of the region in the 12th Congressional District race, which has drawn statewide and national attention.
The Republican candidate, Keith Rothfus, visited the county’s GOP headquarters in Richland Township, along with 9th district Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, Sen. Pat Toomey and the party’s 2012 Senate nominee, Tom Smith. A little while later, U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, held a rally with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in the incumbent’s hometown office.
All of the speakers offered plenty of red-meat comments for party faithful gathered on the final full day of campaigning before today’s election.
"We’re going to put my size 101/2 shoe up Keith Rothfus’ rear end."
Critz spoke about support Rothfus has received from outside the district, including more than $1 million in ad buys purchased by Americans for Tax Reform, a lobby led by Grover Norquist. Almost $6.5 million has been spent by pro-Rothfus groups, according to Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes government openness.
“We’re in a fight,” Critz said. “You hate to say it, ‘us against them.’ This is the middle class’ stand, and because of you folks we’re going to do this. We’re going to put my size 101/2 shoe up Keith Rothfus’ rear end. So, when he goes back to Grover Norquist, and (Rep. Pete) Sessions, and (House Speaker John) Boehner, and (Rep. Eric) Cantor and (Gov.) Mitt Romney, he can say, ‘Can you read this? What size shoe is this?’ because it’s going to come out of his mouth I’m going to shove it so far up there.”
Critz spoke to a room filled with union members, who have been some of his most active political backers.
“Mark has been a real champion for working people,” said Trumka. “He stood up for us on every single issue that’s been out there.”
Rothfus received similar strong support from Toomey, Shuster and Smith.
“We’ve got to elect Keith Rothfus,” said Shuster. “I need reinforcements in the House. Sen. Toomey needs us to have reinforcements in the House so that we can do the things we need to do to create the jobs right here in Cambria County, and Pennsylvania and across the country. We’ve got to make sure that we repeal Obamacare, that we put certainty back into the regulatory and taxes so the businesses will go out and invest, and we’ve got to stop this war on coal.”
Toomey agreed, saying, “We know our challenges. We’re going to run right at them. We’re going to solve them, and it’s going to be because we’ve got guys like Keith Rothfus doing the right thing.”
Rothfus spent most of his time speaking against President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
“(Today) the American people in southwestern Pennsylvania get to pivot to jobs,” Rothfus said. “We’ve been waiting four years for this president to pivot to jobs. Instead, he’s pivoted to government time and time again.”
All of the GOP candidates at the Richland event, including state attorney general nominee David Freed, discussed their races in the larger context of a presidential election year and differing political philosophies between Republicans and Democrats.
“It’s past concern. It’s fear, fear of where this country’s heading. So, just so there is no misunderstanding whatsoever, who in this room is ready for a new president?” said Smith, a statement greeted by a round of applause from the Republican audience.
Smith is looking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. Shuster is running against Democrat Karen Ramsburg and write-in independent Paul Ritchey.