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Separated at birth

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Welch might not have political experience, but he does have a sense of humor – one his campaign (with the help of the inimitable John Brabender) demonstrated in six-minute Internet attack ad. With the help of deadpan acting, witty scripting and creative Photoshopping, the Welch campaign suggests that Mr. Casey and Mr. Obama were separated at birth.

"What I find most intriguing is their uncanny ability to show up dressed almost identically," one actor said while several photos of the pair appear. One clearly altered shot shows Mr. Casey and Mr. Obama in the sort of pose most often seen in engagement photos and wearing identical blue Argyle sweaters that rival Rick Santorum's sartorial sweater vests.

"The probability that two individuals would so consistently demonstrate such exact fashion taste at precisely the same moment, day in and day out, suggests more than coincidence, the actor deadpans.

Another actor portrays a statistician who suggests that voting records show its "probable" that Mr. Casey and Mr. Obama are twins. "In vote after vote you would think they are the same person. In fact, Casey voted with Obama 98 percent of the time," the actor says. "People don't agree with their spouses that often."

Next up: a suggestion that Mr. Casey is trying to be like the president even when it comes to food choices. A photo appears of the pair visiting a diner during a 2008 campaign stop. The actress notes that Mr. Casey is "staring longingly at Mr.Casey's buttery waffles. Unfortunately, Mr. Casey's fruit plate selection makes him different from Obama. A picture taken moments
later shows that the fruit is gone and has been replaced with an order of buttery pancakes," she says, as if revealing a great conspiracy.

"Very telling."

The tag line: "Ordering buttery pancakes, dressing alike and voting together time. Now you know why experts and people all across Pennsylvania think Bob Casey and Barack Obama must have been separated at birth."

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Alt/Critz ad reax

Published by Tim McNulty on .

As we noted this morning, the tone of the new PA12 Altmire and Critz ads is positive but the campaign won't be. And sure enough the camps are already attacking each other over them.

The Critz campaign targets fellow Democrat Altmire's "A Lot" ad, which says the of the McCandless incumbent: "In western Pennsylvania, who you stand with says a lot about who you are" and "He fought the Tea Party Republicans when they tried to slash Medicare and Social Security."

As for "who you stand with," Team Critz says Altmire voted with Republicans 53 percent of the time (according to CQ), and he supported a tea party-friendly balanced budget amendment that Critz says would gut the entitlements.

"Jason Altmire is not the same person who was first elected to Congress. Washington has changed him and he now sides with the Tea Party Republicans over the people of western Pennsylvania," Critz for Congress spokesman Mike Mikus said. "Jason Altmire voted for the Republican Balanced Budget Amendment which would slash Social Security and Medicare and he voted to kill the program that would allow people to purchase affordable health insurance. He says he's putting western Pennsylvania first when, in reality, he's putting politics first."

Altmire campaign manager Angela Ruslander responded: "Yet again, another act from a desperate candidate trying to hide the truth. Critz is trailing badly in all the polls, including his own. The facts are: Jason Altmire has cast over 4,500 votes in his career and has voted more often with the Democratic party than Mark Critz has in his career. That is why the Democratic Committees in Allegheny, Beaver and Westmoreland Counties voted to endorse Jason Altmire over Mark Critz. Jason stood up to the Tea Party and for western PA families when he voted to crack down on Wall Street after they nearly collapsed our economy. Mark Critz voted against holding Wall Street accountable. You can always count on Jason Altmire to stand up for western Pennsylvania."

The party unity/balanced budget complaint is a common one from the Critz team. Of course, Critz has a pretty conservative voting record too -- while a similar National Journal study has Altmire listed as the state's most conservative Dem, Critz is the third farthest to the right (after Tim Holden).

The Altmire team has its own party unity study that shows Altmire voting 82% with the party in 2010-2011 and Critz 80%, and differing on key votes such as Don't Ask Don't Tell and Dodd/Frank.

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Corbett neutral as Nutt joins Rick

Published by Laura Olson on .

RomneycapitolThere's presidential primary fever in Harrisburg today, as the Romney campaign is downstairs with a handful of political heavy-hitters to begin their march into Rick Santorum's home turf.

The Romney event - featuring Allegheny County GOP chair Jim Roddey and others announcing their support for the former Massachusetts governor - comes hours after the Santorum camp announced that Gov. Tom Corbett's former campaign manager will be their Pennsylvania state director.

Brian Nutt joining the Santorum effort isn't entirely a surprise. Shortly after Corbett's gubernatorial win, Nutt signed on with the BrabenderCox media firm, which represented Corbett as well as Santorum in their past races. 

The Romney supporters said their candidate is the most likely to attract independent voters and disillusioned Democrats, along with Republicans, to win the presidency. 

"It's clear to me that there's one candidate that can win in November," said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster. "One candidate that can take it to Barack Obama. And one candidate that can go to Washington and fix this economy."

Nutt, who wandered over for the Romney event in the state Capitol, said he believes Pennsylvanians still view Santorum as a favorite son, and discounted descriptions of the Romney endorsers as a representation of how establishment Republicans in the commonwealth view the race.

His move shows a rare political split between him and Gov. Corbett. Nutt also is working for U.S. Senate hopeful Steve Welch, who secured the state GOP committee's endorsement largely due to Corbett's aggressive efforts.

Corbett reiterated today that he's still publicly neutral and gave no clues as to whether he'll be offering thoughts otherwise before the primary.

"Don't try to read between the lines," he said tersely when asked about Nutt working for Santorum. "It has nothing to do with [my decision]."

"I will certainly be active once we have the nominee, the convention and thereafter," Corbett said. "What role I play before the primary still remains to be seen."

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PPP: Santorum leads by 18 in Pa

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Barack Obama's numbers are up in the latest Public Policy Polling look at Pa, and Rick Santorum has a healthy lead in the GOP presidential race 6 weeks out from the state's primary. We're due to get more Pa numbers tomorrow from Quinnipiac. From PPP:

Pennsylvania voters are evenly divided on Obama's performance with 47% approving and an equal 47% disapproving of the job he's doing. That's a big improvement from Obama's numbers in the state over the course of 2011, which came in at 42/53, 46/48, 42/52, and 46/49 on our four polls of the state. Obama's numbers are up across the board when it compared to our November poll- with Democrats he's gone from 69/26 to 74/21, with Republicans he's gone from 9/85 to 15/78, and with independents he's gone from 45/53 to 52/41.

Obama's 7 point lead over Romney in Pennsylvania is a shift from last year when we twice found them tied, once found Romney ahead by a point, and once found Obama ahead by three. In addition to Obama's approval numbers improving, Romney's image has taken a hit in the state over the last 3 months. His favorability numbers were already bad at 32/51, but now they're worse at 30/60. Obama's turned a 2 point deficit against Romney with independents into a 51/38 lead.

The strongest of the Republican candidates in Pennsylvania- for both the primary and general- is Rick Santorum. He's the top choice of 43% of GOP primary voters to 25% for Romney, 13% for Newt Gingrich, and 9% for Ron Paul. Santorum's winning pretty much every segment of the electorate but he's particularly strong with Tea Party voters (49-21 over Gingrich with Romney at 17%), Evangelicals (53-16 over Romney), and voters identifying as 'very conservative' (66-15 over Romney.)

Full report here.

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Daily Santorum: Culture wars cont.

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The Rick Santorum campaign is still doubling down on culture war appeals -- a recent mailer contains praise from Rush Limbaugh and the candidate has been hitting comedian Bill Maher for saying Santorum raises his children in a "Christian Madrassa." He told Fox (via GOP12):

All of a sudden, if you're instilling faith and teaching them about God in your home, you're a Madrassa, according to these folks, as if reason doesn't take place in these homes.

Our children will outreason him -- My 12 year-old will outreason Bill Maher when it comes to understanding how logic works, 'cause he [Maher] is completely illogical."

He's also been swinging at the media strawman, which (like going after Maher, Rachel Maddow, et al) is a tried and true exercise for the ex senator.

It's the latest big day in the GOP presidential race, with 50 and 40 delegates at stake in Alabama and Mississippi respectively. Polls close at 7 p.m. central. Alabama's guv voted for Rick, but stopped short of outright endorsing him.

Santorum's election night party is in Layfayette, La., and coincidentally his SuperPAC just did a quarter-million ad buy in the state targeting Obama administration energy policy.

Speaking of ads, we expect the Romney camp (which has an event in Harrisburg today) at some point to use the clip below from Ed Rendell saying Santorum was "a great pork senator" for Pennsylvania. (Via PoliticalWire)

With Team Romney in his home state, the Santorum camp has announced that Brian Nutt, the campaign manager for Tom Corbett's successful 2010 gubernatorial run, will direct its efforts in Pa. (Corbett himself has not endorsed Santorum however.) Full statement from the campaign after the jump: