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Altmire also takes aim in ad 2

Published by Laura Olson on .

It's starting to feel the Commercial Channel here on Early Returns -- and we even missed one yesterday.

U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire also is airing his second ad in the Democratic congressional battle. Like Critz's new spot, Altmire's ad zeros in on his opponent, highlighting Critz's votes on the Wall Street reform bill and an amendment to the Ryan budget bill as harmful.

PoliticsPA dug into the voting fine-print and says the budget amendment vote was a vote of "present," which was how nearly all of the Democrats voted "in an attempt to kill the Ryan Budget."

UPDATE, 2 p.m. - Critz scheduled a conference call with reporters this afternoon to respond to the ad, and planned to have Philadelphia Congressman Bob Brady on the call. 

Meanwhile, the state AFL-CIO, which is backing Critz, sent over this unsolicited response on behalf of president Richard Bloomingdale:

"Any ad that characterizes Congressman Critz as having not stood up to a budget that would 'dismantle Social Security or gut Medicare' is incorrect. Congressman Critz has consistently stood up for working and retired people, that’s why the AFL-CIO endorsed him. This should continue to be a campaign about ideas and we hope both candidates will take the high road.”

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Daily Santorum: Candy & Bowling

Published by Karen Langley on .

Rick Santorum heads to the Jelly Belly Candy Company in Fairfield, Calif., today to deliver a "major address on the need to have a strong American foreign policy."

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the seemingly unlikely locale has deep ties to Ronald Reagan, whose name is spoken in hallowed tones by Republicans on the campaign trail.

From the story by Seema Mehta:

While running for governor, Reagan relied on the candies as he tried to stop smoking a pipe. His favorite flavor was licorice. When Reagan took office in 1967, the candy-maker, then known as the Herman Goelitz Candy Co., regularly sent shipments to the statehouse. Reagan kept a jar on his desk.

"They have become such a tradition of this administration that it has gotten to the point where we can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing around a jar of jelly beans," Reagan wrote in a letter to the candy maker.

That tradition continued when Reagan became president. The candy-maker, now making jelly beans with real fruit juice, created a blueberry-flavored bean especially for Reagan so he could serve a patriotic red, white and blue assortment at his inaugural festivities in 1981.

Santorum has candy ties himself, as ABC News reports: From 1997 until leaving his seat in 2007, he stocked the Senate's "candy desk."

The former Pennsylvania senator is also getting attention for his challenge, reported yesterday in the Washington Examiner, to bowl against Mitt Romney. (According to the story, Santorum studied Bowling 101 at Penn State.) Molly Ball writes in The Atlantic that this challenge is no good sign for the Santorum campaign.

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Romney transmits info to PA voters

Published by Karen Langley on .

Mitt Romney told thousands of Pennsylvania Republicans on a conference call this evening that a remark by President Obama to the Russian president suggests he's keeping things from them.

While traveling overseas this week, Obama was overheard telling President Dmitri Medvedev during a discussion of missile defense that "after my election I have more flexibility." Romney quickly criticized the president, saying the exchange, picked up by a live microphone, was revealing.

During a telephone town hall meeting this evening with 14,500 Pennsylvania Republicans, the GOP frontrunner said the overheard remark was so problematic it should drive voters' decisions in the general election. 

"This really ought to form the basis of what people are thinking about as they go to the polls in November," he said. "That this president has an agenda that's very different from the one he will communicate to people who are voting."

"We simply can't trust what he's saying is the full explanation of what he's actually planning on doing," he continued.

Obama told reporters after the incident that the highly politicized environment of election-year Washington would make it difficult to resolve differences with Russia on arms control.

On the conference call, Romney asked listeners to vote for him in the April 24 primary election and promised he would campaign across the state. Between questions, a staff member told listeners they could indicate their support by dialing "1" on their phones.

The Romney campaign has opened a Pennsylvania office, complete with three staffers, in downtown Harrisburg.

One questioner, a Greensburg man who described himself as a World War II veteran, told Romney he had written Newt Gingrich's name onto the ballot in the last election because he believes the former House speaker supports the Constitution. When the man asked how Romney feels about the founding document, the candidate responded by praising the 2nd and 10th amendments.

"Ernest, I have to tell you, as I look at the challenges we have as a nation, I think many of those challenges have arisen because we've strayed from the principles of the Constitution," he said.

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What's in an Obamacare name?

Published by Karen Langley on .

Forget the federal health care law itself. The Pennsylvania Senate spent nearly half an hour this afternoon debating whether it was OK to call the law "Obamcare" on the chamber floor.

Senators were happily debating a proposed Constitutional amendment to bar any law requiring Pennsylvanians to have health insurance when President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati uttered the word "Obamacare."

That drew objection from Sen. Anthony Williams, a Philadelphia Democrat, who said the term was inappropriately partisan.

"To my knowledge there is no piece of federal legislation, or any legislation, that denotes something called 'Obamacare,' " he said. "What is does do is characterize a particular partisan perspective of policy that is actually law in this country."

He asked Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who presides over the Senate, to strike all references to "Obamacare."

But then Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the Republican leader, stood and pointed to a report by the Associated Press that the president's reelection campaign has embraced the term. He noted that the law, officially called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has "a long and awkward name."

Cawley, a Republican, tried to end the debate by proposing senators refer to the law as the "federal health care initiative," but that did not go over. He then ruled against the request to strike references to "Obamacare.

Williams appealed, but the Senate voted 30-18 to stick with Cawley's ruling.

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Critz up on TV with second ad

Published by Laura Olson on .

Democrat Mark Critz has launched round two of his television ad campaign with a new piece that began airing in Pittsburgh and Johnstown this morning.

The spot features Critz standing in an empty warehouse, talking about the jobs that could be created there. He says job creation is why he voted against the Balanced Budget amendment.

"Not only would it mean deep cuts to Medicare benefits, it would cut education and high-tech research that creates new jobs," Critz says in the ad. "Jason Altmire voted for the Republican Balanced Budget Amendment."

Both candidates are already on the airwaves in the district, with generally positive media pieces.