Obama headlines North Philly Wolf rally to energize Democrats in Pa. governor’s race

Big names from both sides of the aisle have stumped in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race, from Hillary Clinton to Michelle Obama to Chris Christie.

On Sunday, the highest-ranking official so far jumped in: President Barack Obama visited North Philadelphia to try to energize voters for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf.

The president sought to contrast incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s record on education, which has dogged him throughout the campaign, with Wolf’s plan for schools. 

“He knows teachers matter,” Obama said of Wolf. “He knows that we should invest in our kids and early childhood education and make college a reality for more young people and make it more affordable. That’s Tom’s plan for Pennsylvania.”

Obama also said Democrats could have won the 2010 governor’s race if they had delivered just 20 more votes in each precinct.

“Twenty votes could decide whether teachers get the support they need and whether our kids get a fair shot,” he said. “Your vote matters!”

Polls show voters see education as one of the top issues in the governor’s race. Though school districts across the state have made deep spending cuts in recent years, Corbett has maintained that education funding is at record levels.

Taxes are another major issue in the election, and political analysts say Corbett has gained ground in recent weeks by characterizing Wolf as a tax-and-spend liberal.

A Muhlenberg College poll shows Corbett is trailing Wolf by 9 percentage points among likely voters, and by 12 points when undecided leading voters are counted. That’s a big jump from September, when the governor was behind by 21 points.

While the president drew cheers, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nuttter was booed loudly when he took to the podium to warm up the crowd. Boos also were heard when President Obama mentioned Nutter’s name.  It’s unclear if any one group was behind it. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.