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Smith Seizes on Prez’s Casey Comments, But is Obama a Liability? (Watch Video)

Barack Obama gave Bob Casey the kind of praise on Tuesday that would have given a Democratic candidate heartburn in 2010. Among other accolades the President said Casey, “has always had my back”. Naturally, Tom Smith jumped on the comment. But is Obama, who polls ahead in PA, really a liability for Casey?

Namely, how does it hurt the Senator to tie him to a man that’s favored to win the Keystone State?

The remarks came at a campaign event in Philadelphia which Casey attended. The freshman Senator has frequently joined the President during PA events.

The President commended him, saying:

“You’ve got somebody here who is one of my dear friends, one of my favorite people. Who has always had my back and he and I share a lot in common. We both pretend to play basketball even though we’re way too old. We both married up, and we both have extraordinary daughters. He happens also to be one of the best members of the senate that we have, Bob Casey’s in the house.”

Casey is a long-time Obama supporter; he endorsed him in the competitive 2008 Democratic primary when most of the state’s establishment went for Hillary Clinton. There are countless pictures of the two of them together: all potential fodder for attacks ads.

They’re allies in DC, too. As the Smith campaign noted in a press release about the video above, Casey has voted with the President an overwhelming majority of the time: 97 percent in 2009, 98 percent in 2010, and 93 percent in 2011. He’s voted for each of the President’s major legislative initiatives: the stimulus, cash for clunkers, Dodd-Frank, the health care law, and more.

So from a practical standpoint, it’s tough to imagine Casey successfully finding distance from the President. When asked, he often notes his strong stance against illicit Chinese trade practices. And he voted for cloture on the controversial Blunt amendment, supported by Catholic institutions during the contraception debate. But most of his voting record lines up with Obama.

Is that such a bad thing for Casey, re-election-wise? In general, Democratic turnout is better during presidential years – particularly in vote-heavy Philadelphia. And most polls of PA show Obama with a decent lead over Mitt Romney: 46 to 40 in Q-Pac; 48 to 36 in F&M; 47 to 41 in Rasmussen in the past three weeks.

The answer is: maybe. Though Obama is doing relatively well in PA polls, and Casey is ahead by an even wider margin (Casey lead Smith 51 to 32, 42 to 21 and 48 to 41 in each of those polls, respectively).

But a closer look at the numbers shows some reasons Smith is still talking about Obama well after the primary. First is rallying the base. That Quinnipiac poll showed that 38 percent of GOPers approve of Casey’s job performance, 29 percent say he deserves re-election, and 19 percent plan to vote for him. Smith needs to bring those Republicans into his camp.

Furthermore, in several regions where Casey is strong (southwest, northwest and central PA), President Obama is weak. So the Casey-Obama angle has its merits.

In any case, there’s more to the attack than the President by himself.

In 2006, challenging Sen. Rick Santorum, Casey gave his future opponent a gift: this quote, from an appearance on Meet the Press.

“When you have two politicians in Washington that agree 98 percent of the time, one of them is not really necessary. We could have a machine have that kind of votes. We need someone who’s going to be truly independent, who has the character and integrity to stand up to his party and his president.”

Calling one’s opponent a hypocrite is a salient attack regardless of other factors.

Indeed, asked how effective their Obama-Casey strategy would be in the general election, Smith’s camp went right there.

“Senator Casey would like voters to believe he is an independent voice, but the public record and the President himself agree, Casey has been a rubber-stamp for Obama’s failed policies,” said Communications Director Megan Piwowar. “On one point we agree with Senator Casey, when you have two politicians who agree 98% of the time, one of them needs to go.”

How did Casey’s team respond? Via PA Dems spokesman Mark Nicastre, who hammered Smith for his ties to the Tea Party (he founded one in 2009).

“Tom Smith has said he would go to Washington to push Tea Party values and policies,” said Nicastre. “Smith has backed their push to end Medicare as we know it, which will raise costs for seniors. Smith also would privatize Social Security and eliminate the Department of Education – two policies backed by the Tea Party.”

How close the pro-Casey argument will echo the pro-Obama argument remains to be seen, but the case against Smith hews pretty close to Dems’ case against other Republicans.

Pat McAteer contributed to this report.

13 Responses

  1. The women will stand up and be FAITHFUL for the best candidate in the race for US Senator. There is no need for CHANGE to a candidate without experience. The residents of PA will be wise and vote for the candidate with experience. PA has a lot of good jobs now. Do not let an inexperienced man who just has to input Obama’s name for recognition.

    All of the residents of PA need to remember that you vote counts in this election. So be FAITHFUL and go to the polls and VOTE.

  2. Yes, that is true I will be voting against the TEA BAGGER. Or should I say tea bragger. Not only will Democrats be voting against him but also fellow Republicans plus Independents. Yes the women of Armstrong County and beyond will definitely be delighted to vote against this man. We have to stand together strong for what is right for our country and for women’s rights.

    Spread the word that the man who wants just to be called Senator. He will be looking for a college to attend in the fall.

  3. The tea party should have stayed anti-bailout and that’s it. It’s tie as a right wing division of the republican party has sapped all credibility in the sense these people are supporting those who created the environment for the economy to collapse anyways… hypocritical (just saying)

  4. maybe the way the dems have treated their own has prompted the abysmal turnout. Brady’s inability to deliver hurt more during the Commonwealth races in 2009 and 2010 – and what’s up with that insistence on forcing Sestak on us? Among Pennsylvanians who studied their Revolutionary War history, the Tea Party isn’t as unsavory as you’d like to think… fiscal sanity rings loud … a strong turnout would be galvanized to vote against the creeps who hijacked the party with a “Where else can they go?” arrogance.

  5. Chubber…

    Let’s hope you are right. However, ignoring the 2009, 2010, and 2011 elections in which abysmal turnout in Philly sapped our chances… as well as a prolonged healthcare debate, which undoubtedly hurt too. Hopefully Bob Bradys Philly will deliver.

  6. Smith has no chance, and anyone with have a brain knows it…Obama wins comfortably as well…maybe Corbett can campaign with the R candidate and help them, bwahahaha!

  7. I see both races as tight. I think that Casey wins by 5 or so and the Obama race taking shape of the 2004 Kerry-bush race with it coming down to wire. Edge to Obama 52-48. / 51-49.

    Casey will win southwest but he’ll have to scratch and claw. It does not help that he’s been a punxatawney Phil there… which does not say much.

    I’m sure all of Tom Smiths fellow Democratic committeemen and women in Armstrong will be delighted to vote against that tea bagger.

  8. What polls are you looking at Chubber? I’ve only seen a few and not a single one had Casey up by 30%, or even close to that. The only reason Casey is even ahead right now is because of his last name. If you went out and asked everyday people what they know about Bob Casey, Jr., the first response from most would be that he is the son of a former governor. Try it, go ahead. No one knows what Bob Casey, Jr. stands for or what he’s actually done in the senate. Once people know Tom Smith, the race will get tight, very tight.

  9. chubber 36. Nobody lives in Bucks, Delaware, Chester and Lehigh County?? All will go to Romney. Thanks to voter ID Philly will no longer be rolling up 500K plus margins. You know where your Union robot base has the day off and they were assigned multiple ID’s and polling places to go and vote. Not happening anymore baby!! Keep ignoring the warning signs. GOP flipped 11 PA Counties last election. You can have Montco.

  10. I’m sure that Casey is very concerned, being up 30%+ up in the latest polls and all…definitely a harbinger of doom…his victory in November will make his destruction of Santorum seem like close call.

    It may be true that President Obama is not popular “Outside of Philly and parts of Main Line”, but unfortunately for the Tea Bagger Wingnuts, no one lives there…Obama by 8, Casey by 24…book it.

  11. Keegan. You may be scratching your head wondering if Obama is a liablity given the fact that you are a loyal Obama/Casey supporter.Outside of Philly and parts of Main Line Obama is a drag.Look no further than the so called “swing County” of Bucks where another loyal, emprty suit Obama supporter, Pat Murphy got waxed in 2010 because he was lock step with Obama. Wht do you think Mark Critz is suddenly running away?? The wave is coming…

  12. He supported acorn he got to go I could not belive he has children he makes me sick

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