It’s only August, but the game of “gotcha” in the Pennsylvania governor’s race has already gotten silly.
Check out the new web video above from the state Republican committee, which the GOP says reveals an “unsettling truth” about Democratic candidate Tom Wolf: “he shares Barack Obama’s passive disdain for Pennsylvania’s rural communities.” Seriously?
The video shows a bit of Wolf’s recent remarks to a crowd at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, an annual agricultural exposition. In the eight-second bite, Wolf offers a lame joke about the fact that he’s a Democrat in a place with a lot of conservative gun owners.
“By the way, I wasn’t going around and saying hi to people earlier,” Wolf says.”If you thought I was trying to be nice, I wasn’t. I was looking for weapons.”
The Republican web video equates this to President Obama’s 2008 remarks at a private fundraiser about some Americans in depressed rural communities clinging to religion and guns.
Hardly. Obama was at what he thought was a private gathering and clearly speaking his mind. Wolf was just as clearly cracking a political joke in public. I called Megan Sweeney, spokeswoman for the Republican state committee, and asked if this whole thing wasn’t something of a stretch.
Nope, she said with a straight voice. She said that 2nd amendment rights are “a huge deal in the community, and the first thing he thinks to joke about is that he’s checking people for weapons. It shows bad judgment at best.”
The press release announcing the Republican web video added this: “Tom Wolf doesn’t view Pennsylvania’s gun owners as proud citizens of our communities; he views them as the easy targets of an offensive remark.”
Please. If anybody in the audience was offended, I couldn’t tell by listening to the audio of his entire speech. Wolf got a laugh with the weapons crack, and a bigger one about a minute later when when he was talking about his work on Indian agriculture in the Peace Corps.
I contacted the Wolf campaign, and spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan gave me a statement which said in part, “After four years in office, Governor Corbett is resorting to slicing and dicing a joke made by his opponent because he has nothing else to say.”
It’s pretty standard these days for campaigns who can afford it to video-tape every public utterance of their opponents, hoping to catch an intemperate moment or a gaffe. I hope in the future it yields better material than this.