Casey camp fires back at Rendell criticism

Posted: October 21, 2012

Sen. Bob Casey's TV ad man fired back at former Gov. Ed Rendell on Friday for comments Rendell made criticizing Casey's reelection campaign.

"Instructive criticism is one thing, but ignorance is something else," said Casey's media consultant, Saul Shorr.

Rendell, in an interview Tuesday with the Scranton Times-Tribune, was caustic in his evaluation of the "non-campaign" he said Casey was running against Republican Tom Smith.

"Casey? He hasn't run a campaign. He's run one ad, a stupid tea party ad," Rendell said. "The tea party ad isn't bad, but that's all they've run. They've run a non-campaign up until now, and Smith has put a lot of money into the campaign."

The ad Rendell referred to - the only one Casey had on the air in Philadelphia for a time - depicts an image of Smith on a tea cup and suggests the GOP nominee is too far right politically for Pennsylvania.

Shorr, speaking to The Inquirer, said Rendell appeared unaware that Casey had two ads on the air in Philadelphia (and will start a third Saturday). He said Casey had run seven commercials statewide.

"His quote was all he's seen is one ad; 'He is not running a real campaign,' " Shorr said of Rendell's remarks. "Well, we've been on the air in Pittsburgh and Johnstown since Aug. 1 with seven different ads.

"I guess it's obvious that [Rendell] didn't know that," Shorr said. "But I guess that's why the people who live out there thought when he left office that he was governor of Philadelphia."

Casey, a first-term senator, and Rendell, a two-term former governor and one-time Philadelphia mayor, are Pennsylvania biggest-name Democrats.

This war of words comes 21/2 weeks before the Nov. 6 election, with polls showing that Smith has narrowed Casey's lead.

Larry Smar, Casey's campaign manager, said Smith, a coal-mining millionaire, had donated $17 million of his own money to his campaign and had spent $7 million on TV. Casey, he said, had spent $5 million on TV.

In Philadelphia, Casey didn't start running commercials until about Oct. 1.

"We let [Smith] spend $2 million to our zero," Shorr said. "But we saved our money to be able to match him in the end in Southeastern Pennsylvania. And from every indication we have from our polling, that strategy is working."

Some recent public polling has suggested Casey leads by only a few percentage points. Shorr said the Casey camp had its own new poll showing the Democrat up by 13 points, 52-39.

Rendell, in his comments to the Scranton paper, expressed confidence that new Casey ad spending would stop the damage done by Smith and that Casey would win the election.

Jim Conroy, Smith's campaign manager, said the Democratic spat made it clear that Casey "is on the defensive."

He said Smith's polls showed a "very, very close" race.


Contact Tom Infield at 610-313-8205, tinfield@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @tinfield.

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