President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will speak today in Scranton at 5pm today. As the event draws near, Republicans have criticized the President’s bus tour while Democrats have met the visit with open arms (well, mostly).
Senator Pat Toomey (R) welcomed the President to his home state in a statement released Thursday morning. He turned the focus from education – the subject of Obama’s speech will be college affordability – to jobs.
“The lack of adequate job opportunities for recent graduates is still a major problem and will make it tough for them to pay for their education, no matter how much we subsidize student loans or try to control tuition costs,” Toomey said.
Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, also commented on Obama’s visit. In an email to supporters, Wolf used Obama’s impending arrival to turn the focus against incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett’s attempted budgetary cuts to higher education.
“I couldn’t agree more with the President — the keystone to good jobs and a secure middle class is a quality education,” Wolf said. “The budgets [Gov. Corbett] signed into law have forced tuition increases, class reductions, and fewer financial aid options for working, middle-class students.”
Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason said in a conference call Wednesday that Obama’s bus tour will not help cities, like Scranton, that are struggling.
But the PAGOP pivoted, using Obama’s support for natural gas drilling to criticize Gov. Tom Corbett’s Pa. critics.
“This President has failed on creating jobs and getting our economy moving,” Gleason said in a press release headlined, “Obama Visit Highlights Democrats’ Energy Job Killing Agenda.”
“If Pennsylvania Democratic Party had their way to ban natural gas drilling, even fewer jobs would be left in Pennsylvania.”
Pa. Democrats responded in kind, using the visit to talk about Corbett.
“Pennsylvanians are excited to hear from President Obama who is standing up to Republican obstructionism and working hard to continue getting our nation’s economy back on track,” said party spokesman Marc Eisenstein. “Despite the best efforts of Republicans like [Gov.] Tom Corbett, whose economic policies have caused Pennsylvania to drop from 7th to 49th in job growth.”
In his speech in Buffalo Thursday, Obama said that he plans to pursue education reform both through Congress and executive action.
“We’re going to be partnering with colleges to do more to keep costs down, and we’re going to work with states to make higher education a higher priority in their budgets,” Obama said.
The event is scheduled to begin late Friday afternoon at Lackawanna College in Scranton. The President is scheduled to depart on Air Force One and Biden on Air Force Two from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.