PITTSBURGH (AP) – Democrats brought yet another political celebrity to Pennsylvania on Monday in an effort to seal a win in the governor’s race, as former President Bill Clinton told a rally of hundreds in Pittsburgh that Tom Wolf will unite rather than divide as the state’s leader.
Clinton told the audience in a union hall on Pittsburgh’s South Side that Wolf’s life experience, whether in the Peace Corps or running his family business, shows that he can bring people together for the political and economic good.
“That is what he will do and it is what he has done all his life,” Clinton said.
Wolf is “a real person who led a real life” and has spent it trying to help people to think about what is best for themselves and their children, Clinton said. The alternative in politics, Clinton said, was trying to get people to stop thinking.
Clinton’s visit to Pittsburgh reaches voters who tend to be more conservative than their counterparts in eastern Pennsylvania. Earlier in October, the Wolf campaign brought first lady Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton for campaign events in Philadelphia, and President Barack Obama is scheduled to campaign for Wolf in Philadelphia next Sunday.
The little-known Wolf made a big splash last Jan. 30 with a TV ad that depicted him as a folksy, Jeep-driving businessman and Ph.D. who shared profits with his employees. The ad was an immediate hit with Democrats, and propelled Wolf through a hotly contested primary, thanks in part to the $10 million he gave his campaign. He has since held a double-digit percentage point lead over Corbett in independent polls, although Corbett has pointed to Clinton’s arrival as evidence that any Wolf lead is narrowing and that Democrats are trying to save Wolf from a free fall.
The outcome of the election will be historic, either way. Wolf is trying to make Corbett the first Pennsylvania governor in four decades to lose re-election, while independent pollsters say they have never seen a major candidate turn around such a big polling deficit in such a short period of time.
The election is Nov. 4, and the candidates have picked up their public schedules.
After starting the campaigns by visiting successful businesses to draw media attention, they are now touring the state and sometimes making more than one public event a day to urge on supporters. Wolf is touring by bus. Corbett – he is driven and escorted by state troopers on his taxpayer-paid security detail – is clustering campaign events around official public events where he is making a slew of grant announcements, a time-tested way for incumbents to maximize their visibility on the campaign trail.
Corbett, 65, is Pennsylvania’s former two-term attorney general from Shaler, near Pittsburgh. Wolf, also 65, a first-time candidate from tiny Mount Wolf, in south-central Pennsylvania, ran his family’s York-based building-products distribution business for much of the last three decades.