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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.

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Raja responds on Mustio ad

Published by Laura Olson on .

D. Raja's campaign has responded to state Rep. Mark Mustio's new television ad with a fiery statement labeling fellow Republican Mustio as a "union endorsed liberal," and citing support for Raja from the state's manufacturers association.

"I lived the American dream, and I am proud of the jobs we've created here," said Raja in a statement. "My campaign is focused on changing the culture in Harrisburg and voters will have a clear choice between a conservative myself and a pay-raise politician, Mark Mustio."

The full release from Team Raja is after the jump:

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Court: no residency req for petitions

Published by Laura Olson on .

In a ruling that comes a few weeks too late to save U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire's campaign a day-long headache, the state Supreme Court released an opinion this week deeming that those circulating ballot petitions are not required to live within a candidate's district.

The Associated Press has more:

The high court's unanimous ruling, issued Monday, resolved a conflict between state and federal court decisions regarding the Pennsylvania Election Code by enforcing a 2002 federal court injunction against the residency requirement.

"It makes no sense to require petition circulators to live in the same district," said Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which handled the case for a candidate for the legislature in 2010. "It's an artificial barrier to allowing candidates to get on the ballot."

The issue came up most recently in a court battle over the Democratic congressional primary involving two Western Pennsylvania incumbents, Jason Altmire and Mark Critz. Walczak said multiple Commonwealth Court decisions had upheld the residency rule despite the federal injunction.

"The end result is that this residency requirement is unenforceable, period," he said. "So that should completely put to rest this issue."