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RNC chair: Referendum on liberty

Published by Karen Langley on .

Arguments over the federal health care law have concluded at the Supreme Court, but Republicans want you to remember they still really and truly oppose the law.

So the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, traveled to Harrisburg today to speak against the overhaul. He was joined by Senate candidate Steve Welch, the GOP-endorsed candidate who must defeat four other Republicans, GOP National Committeewoman Christine Toretti and Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

Both Priebus and Welch reminded listeners that "Obamacare," as they put it, recently had its second anniversary, and Welch noted the challenge to the law's constitutionality -- evidence, he said, against U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, the Democrat he hopes to replace.

"These grim events are a reminder that President Obama and Bob Casey have hurt our health care system and hurt our economy," Welch said.

Asked about one of the questions before the high court, Priebus said he doesn't see how the requirement that people carry insurance can be separated from the rest of the law, though he said lawmakers could join together on aspects of the law that both parties support.

"What you're seeing though, here in the Supreme Court, is an affirmation that this president and his policies are not squaring with the concepts and ideas that have been laid out in the Bill of Rights and James Madison and America," he said. "This will be a referendum on liberty, freedom, the Constitution and how big Obama world is going to get."

In concert with the visit, the RNC released a TV ad in Harrisburg attacking the cost of the law.

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Kane up with TV ads in AG race

Published by Laura Olson on .

Both of the Democrats in the attorney general's race are now on television screens near you.

Former Lackawanna prosecutor Kathleen Kane is airing her TV spots (the one released today is above) in every Pennsylvania media market except Philadelphia. 

Her opponent, former Bucks County congressman Pat Murphy, went up in Pittsburgh last week with a $50,000 media buy.

Kane's new ad focuses mostly on her biography, describing her as "the first woman in Pennsylvania history to run for attorney general" and stating that she mopped floors to pay for law school. It also heralds the endorsement she received from former President Bill Clinton earlier this week.

Her other ad, spotted last night on a Harrisburg cable channel, aims to paint the image of a tough prosecutor by noting a case where she received a threat from the brother of a defendant. "He's a thug ... we prosecuted him too," Kane says in the ad.

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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.