When he says health care is a personal issue for everyone, he knows whereof he speaks. Rothfus faced long odds when he was diagnosed with a form of cancer of the appendix with a high mortality rate.
"When the government is running it, their focus is the budget number. That's it. It's not focused on care," Rothfus said of the health care industry. "It's going to result in asprins for everybody and specialty care for nobody."
The district favors a generic Republican; it backed John McCain by a 54 percent to 45 percent margin in 2008. But it's a traditionally Democratic seat, the result of a redistricting process that merged districts held by Rep. Jason Altmire and the old Jack Murtha seat. Murtha was an earmarking expert, adept at steering big bucks back to his district, but Rothfus says he won't operate the same way.
"Jack Murtha brought Johnstown through some very tough times when the mills were closed. He served his district as he saw fit to make sure we had jobs out there. The fact is, unemployment in Cambria County right now is 9.3 percent. Those jobs aren't there.
I will not take earmarks," Rothfus said. "I think that has led to an abuse. And it depends on how you define 'earmark.' If I have an idea of how I want something, I put that in a bill and I present it to the floor for an open vote. That's not an earmark, per se. It's the massive appropriations bills and members would go through and put footnotes in committee reports and say we want this, and then the agencies would think, oh, I've got to do that because if I don't do that they're going to cut our funding. It's that kind of back-door processing that is unacceptable."