With his budget shaking communities from Erie to Exton, and his approval ratings hovering below 40 percent, the governor from Western Pennsylvania came downtown Tuesday to meet and greet a friendly crowd: the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
For nearly an hour, he sat on a stage at the Academy of Natural Sciences and fielded questions from Marty Moss-Coane, host of WHYY's Radio Times, on topics ranging from tuition vouchers to his hobbies and recent back surgery.
And though the "Conversation With the Governor," as it was billed, was fluid, Corbett again and again hewed closely to his campaign promises and themes that might resonate with his audience.
No new taxes. Less regulation. A competitive business environment.
He acknowledged that his $27.3 billion budget proposal, the one that cuts about $1 billion in school funding, remained under negotiation in Harrisburg. Still, that bottom line will not change, he said, regardless of calls to tap into newly discovered state surplus.
"The number is 27.3," he told the radio host, three times.
Corbett acknowledged the angst over his plan, but said no one should be surprised.
"I campaigned on this," he said. "I believe everybody wanted me to keep my word, they just didn't want me to keep my word as it pertained to them."
He said he would consider imposing an impact fee on natural gas drillers - but only after his Marcellus Shale commission finished studying how a fee might affect drilling operations. And only if the revenue goes to local communities most affected by drilling, not to the state's general fund controlled by the legislature.
Corbett said that the gas drillers and related companies have created 48,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and that the state needed to help the industry expand here.
And while natural gas extraction has been largely confined to the northern and western parts of the state, the governor suggested Philadelphia could ultimately benefit.
"There's this little port in Philadelphia," he quipped, pointing a thumb toward the river. "We could become, through that port, a natural gas exporter to the world."
Corbett renewed his support for private-school tuition vouchers, saying it would help stoke competition in the school system. But he smiled and waved off an opportunity from Moss-Coane to criticize teachers' salaries or pensions.
His host asked him the biggest difference between being governor and his prior post as attorney general.
One, Corbett said, was the flow of information. As attorney general, he was able to do more of his job behind the scenes, controlling and releasing information only when and how he and his staff thought it best.
But keeping plans and discussions quiet is not as easy these days. "As governor, things leak out a lot more," he said. And then they ripple.
Corbett said he noticed it even after moving to the governor's mansion, when the staff seemed to jump at his every suggestion to change things.
"I learned that if you think out loud - 'Well, what if we did this?' - they start doing it," Corbett said. "And so my wife says, 'Don't think out loud.' "
Contact staff writer John P. Martin at 215-854-4774