Camp Hill — Republicans from around Pa. gathered Friday for a last-minute party pep talk before the sprint to the general election. With little on the agenda, activists and committee people heard familiar criticism of President Obama.
“I really only have two criticism of the President of the United States. The first, is that he is most liberal President we have seen in office since Jimmy Carter was President back in the 1970s. The second criticism I have is that he is the most incompetent President since Jimmy Carter was in the White House,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the evening’s keynote speaker. “And I mean no disrespect to Jimmy Carter by saying that.”
“When the Europeans are telling you you’re spending too much, you know you’ve got a spending problem in Washington, D.C.”
Jindal was elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011; a rising national star in the GOP, he was discussed as a possible vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney and even in 2008 for John McCain.
For weeks, most polls have shown the presidential race in Pa. slipping away from Romney. His campaign has not aired television ads in Pa. at any point during the general election, and a few weeks ago conservative super PACs left the state.
Over the past few weeks, the Pa. Republican Party has pushed back against that narrative. They were bolstered Friday when Romney visited Pa. for the first time since July. Party leaders sought to energize the regulars to maintain high energy – not just for the top of the ticket, but for local candidates as well.
Indeed, Chairman Rob Gleason boasted of an internal poll commissioned by the party showing the race separated by just 1 point and of the fact that the PAGOP was airing a television ad, the only state party in the nation to do so.
Speakers also gave Tom Smith, the GOP Senate candidate who’s risen in the polls over the last 10 days, hearty praise. The state committee had endorsed his primary opponent in a contentious process during the primary.
“Tom, coming from the private business sector, not only does he pass a budget every year in his company, he balances that budget. He’s been doing that for many, many years. That’s the kind of private sector, practical sense, common sense leadership we need in Washington, D.C.,” Jindal declared. “Let’s elect this man as your next United States Senator.”
“The gap is closing, he’s moving on Senator Casey,” Corbett said.
Smith received a hero’s welcome at the committee – the loudest applause of any speaker – and a sustained standing ovation. He kept his speech basic, thanking party leaders.
“Let’s keep up the fight. This November, what I am hoping for – we will hold down the House – we will have Harry Reid sitting just another voter in the back of the corner, back of the room,” he said to cheers.
The party also played a speech by Rep. Mike Kelly, on video from a U.S. House floor speech in July which was recently named by the Huffington Post (his office boasted) among the 15 Most Passionate Rants and Speeches of the Obama Presidency.
Kelly later praised Smith, specifically his family’s decision to adopt a family of 4 disadvantaged children, and dismissed recent polls showing him at a disadvantage.
He went on to compare Smith and Romney to the Oakland Raiders, who, despite trailing the Pittsburgh Steelers for most of their recent matchup, ended up winning the game.
“So when people tell you we’re down, and we’re not running a very good race and we’re not able to come out of the huddle and we’re fumbling the ball and we’re doing all these crazy things, I say, you know what? See me at the end of the game,” he said.