Rendell is Obama surrogate in Pa., as McCain visits with Ridge

Posted: August 12, 2008

As Sen. John McCain toured Pennsylvania with former governor Tom Ridge yesterday, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign fought to snatch away local headlines.

With the Democratic presidential candidate on vacation in Hawaii, they trotted out a well- known local surrogate - Gov. Rendell.

Rendell, who passionately backed Sen. Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary election, held a news conference in Philadelphia yesterday to slam the Republican presidential candidate on his economic voting record.

"Everything Senator McCain has done has been to widen that gap between the richest and most powerful corporations and small businesses," Rendell said.

Rendell read a list of McCain's votes in the Senate, saying that he supported tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas, opposes raising the minimum wage and opposes a windfalls-profits tax for oil companies.

In response, McCain spokesman Paul Lindsey said: "Working families are looking for a leader who will get our economy moving again, and Obama's continued clinging to the failed tax-and-spend policies of the past will do exactly the opposite."

Lindsey also said that voters had not seen much of Obama since he lost the Pennsylvania primary election in May.

Obama made two visits to the key battleground state in June, to suburban Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, McCain has made eight trips to the Keystone state since the primary election. His current two-day swing through the state will include stops in Harrisburg and York.

Accompanied by Ridge, considered a possible contender for vice president, McCain yesterday stopped in Erie, where he held a town-hall meeting at GE Transportation, a plant that makes locomotives.

McCain spoke about the raging conflict between Russia and Georgia, calling for a diplomatic effort to force Russia to withdraw from Georgia. He noted that Russia's actions could have a long-term impact on the country's relationship with the rest of the world.

McCain didn't sound set on Ridge as his No. 2. The New York Times reported that when asked about plans for his first 90 days in office, McCain said "to call Tom Ridge to Washington from whatever vacation he is taking, get him down there and get him to work."

Rendell acknowledged that Ridge would be a big draw in this state.

"There's no question the selection of Tom Ridge as John McCain's running mate would make our job harder here," Rendell said.

But, he added, "even with Tom Ridge on the ticket, I believe Sen. Obama could and would carry the state." *

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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