Updated With Audio: Opponent Says Leach “Demagogues at the Synagogue”

Update 4: Gehret has formed a Jewish Coalition in reaction to the saga, lead by Michael Adler and Lynne Lechter. “Recordings of the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel event show Sen. Leach’s speech was laced with innuendo that the GOP is anti-Semitic – moving blithely from noting that anti-Semitism is alive and well to falsely implying that the Republican Party opposes Judaism,” he said.

Update 3: PoliticsPA has obtained audio of Leach’s remarks from the Leach campaign. Bob Guzzardi, one of Gehret’s supporters who attested to the nature of his initial speech, said the audio matches his memory of the event. Here is the section of the speech that opponents have been referring to:

“…because of my name, and because I don’t necessarily look particularly Jewish, um, people don’t know I’m Jewish often, and then so I hear things that I would not hear if I was more obviously Jewish, and I am keenly aware that while we may have made great progress, anti-Semitism is still alive and well in parts of America and it’s important that we have a president of the United States that understands the importance of protecting religious minorities, and the importance of fighting for the separation of church and state…and…”

(applause from audience)

Sen. Daylin Leach: “…and it’s particularly important these days, because I’m going to be honest, the modern Republican party has become something that it was not when I was a young man growing up, which is a largely theocratic party, and the fact is that we have justices on the Supreme Court, and one of the most important things the president does is appoint judges, we have Justices on the Supreme Court who are very, very overt in saying that they are, not only in their interviews and their writings, but in their opinions, that say, ‘I am fighting for the religious convictions of my particular religion, to be the law of the land, no matter what religion other people may have.’ And, and we see that, uh, in decision after decision. And, you know, give you one example, school prayer. Okay. Coerced school prayer was what we had in this country up until the early sixties. There are at least four Justices on the Supreme Court who would like to go back to that. And I just say to my friends in this room, if we ever have government mandatory school prayer again, it will not be the Shema.”

Update 2: Gehret’s campaign emailed statements by two attendees of the event who corroborated his accusations of Leach:

“I attended the event Monday night at Congregation Keneseth Israel and Sen. Leach’s comments were precisely as Bill Lawrence described them,” Richard Chaitt of Havertown said of the blogger who initially wrote of the story. “Leach’s comments were offensive to Jewish Republicans and especially improper regarding Justice Scalia. To make matters even worse, he made those statements at a Jewish house of worship.”

“I was there Monday and I challenge Sen. Leach to unequivocally deny that he said Republicans are theocrats and anti-Semitic, that he said Justice Scalia is anti-Jewish family values.” Guzzardi said. “As for his accusation that I labelled Democrats as terrorists: that’s a clumsy attempt by Leach to deflect the spotlight away from his divisive commentary.”

Update: Today a video of the remarks made by Sen. Daylin Leach at Kenesseth Israel earlier this week was posted online. Leach said the video was not recorded by anyone associated with his campaign, and he therefore would not be able to edit it for content as his opponent claims.

Clarification: Leach was referring to the source vide, posted by a conservative YouTube user. Here is the copy of the video Leach’s campaign posted, and here is the source video. They are identical.

Some of Leach’s comments at the beginning were cut off, but Leach said he had not been speaking for more than a few seconds before the recording began.

Still, Mike D’Amicantonio, the manager of his opponent Charles Gehret’s campaign, has said the video is “just the butt of a smoking gun.”

“Sen. Leach’s release today of a partial video begs the question: where is the footage of the first several minutes of his speech and why did he edit out those remarks? All of the people who attended the rally and contacted our campaign to express their outrage agree that Leach’s comments about anti-Semitic Republican theocrats were made before the edited video begins.”

In the 6-minute video, Leach takes on a handful of topics, the first being prayer in public schools.

He said that at least four Supreme Court justices would like to go back to mandatory prayer, and said that if the government were to mandate school prayer, “it will not be the Shema.”

Sen. Daylin Leach said he expected for his opponent to make "immature" claims, but that this accusation goes way beyond the pale.

He said voters need to evaluate what kind of justices Mitt Romney would nominate – and joked that Chief Justice John Roberts was Romney’s favorite, until the Obamacare decision, but that now his favorite is Antonin Scalia.

“What kind of justice will Barack Obama appoint?” he asked. “We already know, because he has a record of appointing two very qualified, very progressive women to the Supreme Court.”

Leach also mentioned women’s health, recognizing same-sex marriage, gerrymandering in the state and the impact of the Voter ID law – of which Leach has been a vocal opponent.

“I think it is clear what is going on here,” said Leach spokesperson Aren Platt. “Charles Gehret is a 25-year-old with no real experience, and Mr. Gehret chose to believe wildly false accusations made by a far-right-wing web site rather than do his own research, or make any effort whatsoever to verify the truth of the allegations he levied against Senator Leach.

“While it is easy to dismiss the ranting of someone as inexperienced as Mr. Gehret, it should also be acknowledged that anti-Semitism and racism are very real, and when someone running for political office fabricates allegations such as these for political gain, it does nothing to advance the dialogue.”

Today Republican state Senate candidate Charles Gehret criticized his opponent Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montco) of labelling Republicans as anti-Semitic, calling him the most divisive member of the PA legislature.

A press release from Gehret said that, according to published reports, Leach spoke to a crowd of 1,000-plus people Monday at the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, and told them Republicans are anti-Semitic theocrats and that Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia is opposed to Jewish family values.

Going off of this report, Gehret said that Leach’s comments earn him the title, “Divider-in-Chief.”

“As usual, Sen. Leach would be comical if he weren’t so offensive,” Gehret said. “He actually accused the GOP of opposing the separation of church and state while standing at the podium of a synagogue talking politics. The 17th Senate District deserves serious, knowledgeable and unifying representation – someone who can work well with representatives of all stripes to get things done for his constituents.”

The Gehret press release also featured a comment from one of his supporters: attorney, real estate developer and conservative political activist Robert Guzzardi, a man who has donated tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative GOP candidates.

Guzzardi said he was angered that Leach made inflammatory statements against the “only American political party standing strong for Israel.”

He also said the GOP is gaining Jewish members daily.

“Many of us are waking up to the inconsistencies of Barack Obama’s left wing Democrat Party tilting toward the Muslim Brotherhood. But to single out an esteemed justice of the Supreme Court for false and defamatory accusations? That is unsuitable discourse for an elected official and unacceptable to Pennsylvanians of all faiths.”

The Leach camp did not hesitate to respond.

According to the Leach campaign, the published report the Gehret campaign is referring to is the conservative Bill Lawrence blog, which wrote about the Leach appearance late Monday night – and used pretty much the same line of attack that appears in the Gehret statement:

“Leach…told the crowd that the Republican Party was full of anti-Semitism. He said, without irony in front of the synagogue’s podium, that the Republicans are theocrats who don’t believe in separation of church and state, all the while describing the importance of his Jewish values…When he spoke dismissively that Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia would be opposed by those with Jewish family values, he was rebutted from the audience with a cry of ‘not true’ stopping him cold.”

The Leach campaign not only denied that the Senator called Republicans anti-Semites, but said that relying on the Guzzardi statements that the Democratic Party is “tilting towards the Muslim Brotherhood” is more defamatory – and categorized Democrats as not only anti-Semitic by extension, but, also, as terrorists.

Not one to sit on the sidelines, Leach had a statement of his own for his challenger.

“This is outrageous. I understand that Mr. Gehret is 25 years old and has no actual real-life experience and I expect him to put out statements that are immature and silly,” Leach said.

“But this goes way beyond that. This is defamatory and unhinged. He needs to set the record straight. Not only for me, but for all the Democrats and Jewish Americans he has smeared with these comments.”

Leach chairs the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, and is a powerful political figure in the state dedicated to winning more seats for the Ds. While he is considered a liberal when it comes to most issues, he is also hawkishly pro-Israel, and has defended President Obama on numerous occasions to Jewish audiences in the southeastern part of the state.

Given that the district is moderate-to-liberal, GOP insiders hope to make this race a competitive one. And it could be – as a function of Gehret’s own personal wealth if he injects some of it into the campaign.

July 23rd, 2012 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 30 Comments

30 thoughts on “Updated With Audio: Opponent Says Leach “Demagogues at the Synagogue””

  1. YuncJunc says:

    There are bills Leach has assisted with enthusiastically – the homosexual-special-rights bills steamrolled through Lower Merion, Abington, Conshohocken, and other municipalities, at the expense of religious freedoms guaranteed by our Constitutions !

  2. Anarchrist says:

    Looks like Gehret won this round. Finally somebody is in the arena calling out Leach, the Clown Prince of Pennsylvania leftists, on his outrageous public statements.

  3. Suzanne Is Daylin Leach a “Uniter”? a “Healer”. I think not.

  4. Isaac says what Daylin Leach says. The Republican Party “then the Republican Party is, in fact, quite easily a complete and total theocracy.”

    Unbelievable! Democrats really seem to believe this craziness.

  5. What do you think Daylin is saying in his opening remarks? It is obvious and intended. Republicans are hostile to Jews and threaten what he thinks are Jewish Values, that is, anti-Semites. What else do you think he is saying? He does not discuss policies or issues as good or bad policies but characterizes them as hostile to what he thinks are Jewish Values. and adds, racism..that is, Voter ID has no validity other than to disenfranchise blacks. Racist.

    This is a McCarthyite smear with innuendo and not facts. Effective, nevertheless.

    What is Daylin Leach saying in his opening remarks? that Republicans are friendly to Jews?
    Theocrats in the Republican Party? Name one. In fact, name one anti-Semite.

    What do you think he was saying? ” Theocrats … I hear things ” …. etc…. I cannot see how anyone can say he did not say that Republicans anti-Semites.

    Sorry, the audio proves my point: Daylin smears with innuendo well aware of how it will be heard, particularly, in a Reform synagogue filled with lifelong Democrats.

  6. Suzanne says:

    Mr. Gehret and Mr. Guzzardi appear to be the divisive people here. Sen. Leach does not say the GOP is anti-Semitic. Sen. Leach does tell his audience that there are people who want to be elected, or have their candidates elected, who want their religious values to prevail. Most of us understand that the very Conservative Christian right does not speak for most religious groups, ethnicities, or genders.

  7. Isaac L. says:

    Looks like the truth is out and Mssrs. Guzzardi and Gehret are revealed to be nothing but liars.

    And of the statements actually made, it seems there was an attempt to grossly distort them. Sen. Leach didn’t claim all Republicans were theocrats, but that there’s a strong element of theocracy in the party. Let’s keep in mind which party is the one that gets up in arms about this phony “war on Christmas” and preys on the religious to drum up votes? Which party wants to impose conservative Christian views on abortion and same sex marriage upon the rest of the population? Which party wants to bring back mandatory prayer in school? Which party wants to use public, taxpayer money to keep the 10 Commandments and Nativity scenes on public property? Which party is constantly introducing resolutions about banning Sharia Law and accuses our president of being a secret Muslim, as if that’s somehow a bad thing? Which party is constantly harping on a revisionist historical claim that the Founding Fathers were all Christians and that this is a Christian nation founded on Christian principles?

    The Republican Party has a strong theocratic element even if not all Republicans are theocrats, and you’re either an idiot or a liar if you can’t see that. To use your own Republican logic, if a free market, Heritage Foundation-originated solution like Obamacare is socialism, then the Republican Party is, in fact, quite easily a complete and total theocracy.

  8. Mother of a young Boy says:

    I took my son out of school for the day Daylin Leach was visiting the elementary school. I wouldn’t let that creep walk my dog let alone be near my children.

  9. LM DEM says:

    Leach is a crude, egotistical, moron. His only chance at making a living is in politics, no where else would he be able to continue at a job with the comments and actions he had done over the years. Remind me what he has done in over a decade in Harrisburg. Raised his pay? Lied to us about it? Crude sexually explicit humor he posted on his on site ? Citations for hedge hog day? This guy has not passed one key piece of legislation. The party hands him bills so he can put a bullet point on his campaign flyers. He is an embarrassment to the people of Pennsylvania and Lower Merion.

  10. Kathleen3 says:

    Leach is the Jewish equivalent of Joe Biden. Both men are a source of ridicule and neither deserves to serve in any capacity.

  11. David Darby says:

    He coud not have said that about all Republicans. No way, no how. As for Voter ID, the proof is in the pudding there. That is a mess and Corbett needs to clean it up. I think he will.

  12. Lyn Ludwig says:

    I pray that my neighbors realize how wrong on the issues Leach has been and how much damage he has caused everyone in the 17th Senatorial District and the entire Commonwealth. Please vote for Charles Gehret on November 6th.

  13. Richard Tems says:

    I was there and Bob Guzzardi is correct. Sen. Leach said all Republicans are anti-Semites.

    Sen. Leach might be a mensch as someone writes above, but he is also a lying schmuck.

  14. The Leach campaign could issue a press release on his views and experiences with Republicans and anti-Semitism. He has never denied he thinks Republicans are anti-Semitic Theocrats, only that he did not say it at KI…

    What does he have to hide?

  15. Anarchrist says:

    “Leach said the video was not recorded by anyone associated with his campaign, and he therefore would not be able to edit it for content as his opponent claims.”

    Come on, PoliticsPA – question authority! Look who is hosting the edited video on YouTube – Leach’s own staffer Aren Platt of the Senate Democrat Campaign Committee! Have you never used YouTube? If you HOST the video on your YouTube channel, you can EDIT the video.

    PLEASE report this story fully and ask questions when somebody is OBVIOUSLY snowing you like Aren Platt is here.

  16. Does anyone think this is the entire tape. Daylin is showing talking, out of the blue, no introduction. This event began with the pledge of allegiance. Let’s start there.

    If Daylin Leach doesn’t think, or hasn’t said, the Republican Party is anti-Semitic, let him say so. If there are anti-Semites in positions of influence or authority in the Republican Party, let him name names.

    This is a phony, sleazy disingenuous video edit which should tell anyone with common sense that he said what I, and others, said he said.

    Perhaps a reporter somewhere, even Keegan Gibson himself, could interview Divisive Daylin about his views on the Republican party. “Theocrats”, the Republicans Party Daylin thinks, does he not?

  17. AnnieB346 says:

    From these comments, as well as from current events, it appears that many Republicans do not have the higher level thinking skills to understand the concept of rapprochement with Arab/Islamic countries. WHY do people commit acts of terrorism? Because they feel angry, oppressed, attacked, mistreated. What’s the best way to resolve those issues? Blow them up and turn the desert to glass, or look for common ground and try to build relationships??? This isn’t a game, this is high stakes for the future of US international relations. NB: How many acts of Islamic terrorism has the US experienced under Barack Obama?

  18. George says:

    @The “Old” Senator

    I guess there is now an age limit Mr. Senator on real life experiences.

    How dare you insult someone based on their age even if they are your opponent.

    Mr Senator would you hire me right out of college since I don’t have any real life experiences?

    Mr Senator what is the proper age for someone to have real life experiences?

    Mr. Senator are you always this inconsiderate and rude to young people?

    Mr. Senator you are immature and silly

  19. CaptDot says:

    Sorry, Bob. My last comment was to be addressed to TNardi, not you.

  20. More to come. Daylin is Divisive. He is a polemicist who appears to base fears and false hopes with little factual support to his arguments. Listen carefully, his facts are tendentiously presented.

    The Gehret campaign is not letting this smear of anti-Semitism go. Good for Charles Gehret. A Catholic standing with Jews against smears.

    More to come

  21. CaptDot says:

    Also, Bob, why do you insist that the poor, minorities, urban communities, the elderly, and students. are too stupid and inept to get a voter ID? Why don’t you head a drive to identify those without ID and help them get one? The Inquirer ran a story yesterday about this very thing. Their researchers identified a list of folks who may not have adequate ID – no drivers license or State ID. Of course, this means next to nothing without verification, as other forms of ID are acceptable. Put your time/money where your mouth is. Get out and do something about what you perceive as a problem.

  22. CaptDot says:

    This is the same gathering when an opposition-speaker outside was accosted by a Democrat leaving the assembly. She may have been somewhat provocative, but nothing worthy of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuxTYZrBFrw This guy could have just walked past, but as with most Liberals, he had to confront and try to belittle the opposition. Even these guys know the Alinsky tactics. The young woman in this video kept her cool against this. Good for her. Also, when are they going to have a Republican forum at this facility?

  23. Anarchrist says:

    @TNardi: You’ve got some purple around your mouth. Probably because you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid; it’s what they call the Kool-Aid smile.

  24. TNardi says:

    Bob,

    Voter ID was designed to disenfranchise the poor, minorities, urban communities, the elderly, and students. Mike Turzai admitted as much. It’s a modern-day poll tax.

  25. Although no one on dais contradicted or corrected Daylin, the remarks were Daylin’s alone. I said nothing about “Jewish Americans”.

    Daylin, tell us what you said at KI. This is simple.

  26. Daylin Leach does not specifically deny he said what I said he said. He said my comments were “defamatory”.

    Daylin Leach is a lawyer and likely knows that a statement can be both defamatory, that is, injurious to reputation, and true. He is skirting the issue. you know.. Like “it depends what the meaning of is, is”.

    Let him state, unequivocally, what he did, in fact, say about Republicans, “theocrats” and anti-Semitism. Apparently, if you think that abortion is ending a human life, ( and if a fetus is not human life,perhaps not a person but human life nevertheless, what is it? a monkey? ), you are a theocrat and imposing a religious value on others.

    Orthodox Judaism looks at abortion as morally wrong.

  27. Daylin Leach also said that Voter ID was designed to disenfranchise Blacks and to solve a nonexistent problem. I support Voter ID because I think it is necessary to insure every vote counts. Does Daylin Leach deny there is voter fraud in Philadelphia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania?

  28. What did Senator Leach say about Republicans, the Republican Party and anti-Semitism? Nothing?

    What is Senator Leach’s views about the Republican Party, Republicans and anti-Semitism?

    Senator Leach did not say the party had been taken over by right wing, extremist “theocrats”? What did he mean by “theocrat”?

    Is he claiming what I said is pure fabrication? That he never said anything about Republicans and anti-Semitism?
    Bill Lawrence heard it. I heard it. Others heard it.

    President Obama has invited Islamist Mohammed Morse to the White House as an honored guest. What is that if not a tilt? And the Cairo speech? Not a tilt toward Islamists and Islamic countries? See also President Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks about Mohammed Morsi.

  29. Jake Sternberger says:

    Oy gevalt, Gehret’s attack is so verkakte I could plotz. Everyone knows Senator Leach is a mensch.

  30. TommySki says:

    Sorry Daylin. I was there and that’s precisely what you said. If your ears can’t hear what your mouth is saying, perhaps you need to reel it in a bit.

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