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White House Wavers on Obama Campaign Stop in PA-12


At a time when polls show the special election for the seat of the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) neck-and-neck, the White House is not at all sure that President Obama will make a campaign stop in Pennsylvania’s 12th District on behalf of Democratic nominee Mark Critz.

Coming five months after the President weighed in for Democrat Bill Owens (who won) in the special election in New York’s 23rd District and three months after he stumped for Democrat Martha Coakley (who lost) in the special U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, the vagueness coming from the White House on whether he will campaign for Critz raises doubts about Democratic chances in the May 18th race.

Referring to my recent trip to Philadelphia and Harrisburg and the reports I heard of the tightness of the race between Critz and Republican Tim  Burns, I asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs yesterday if the President would appear on behalf of the Democrat, who was top aide to the late Rep. Murtha.

“I’d have to look at the schedule,” replied Gibbs, “I haven’t focused too much farther ahead on the block schedule than the next couple weeks, but I can see if there’s anything planned on that.”

Another White House correspondent followed up by pointing out that the big Democratic win in a special U.S. House race in Florida last week was cited by the President as a referendum on health care.  He then asked Gibbs if the White House’s statement on PA-12 was related “to the fact that the Democratic candidate is now up with an ad saying he’s against the health care bill.”

“Again, I have any number of things that I have focused on during my day,” said the President’s top spokesman, “I have not spent a tremendous amount of time looking at the ads in this.  But I do not doubt that there will be people in this season that will campaign on a whole host of policy positions.  I think given where we’ve spent our time and our energy, know where we are, particularly on health care.”