Trump, Barletta Tie Casey to Elizabeth Warren

Republicans worry about the new nominee’s chances against the Democratic incumbent.

Zach C. Cohen
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Zach C. Cohen
May 17, 2018, 10:07 a.m.

President Trump tore into Sen. Bob Casey (D) on Wednesday, calling him “a do-nothing Senator who only shows up at election time. He votes along the Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren lines, loves sanctuary cities, bad and expensive healthcare … and voted against the massive Tax Cut Bill. He’s also weak on borders and crime. Sadly, our great Military and Vets mean nothing to Bobby Jr.”

He also praised Rep. Lou Barletta (R), writing he “will be a great Senator for Pennsylvania.” (Twitter)

ALARM BELLS. “Senior Republicans are … fretting that” Barletta’s “lackadaisical, disorganized effort will hand a third term to … Casey. … [T]he congressman is taking fire from Republicans at home and in Washington who worried that he is relying too much on the president to boost his flagging Senate bid. Barletta has been a disappointing fundraiser and been too slow to ramp up a capable statewide campaign operation.”

“Barletta has had trouble connecting with donors.” At one fundraising event Barletta held with Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in Philadelphia last week, “he had issues keeping the attention of the 20-deep donor crowd at the lunch.”

“Barletta’s campaign has been disorganized and that selling the right story in the right areas of the state has been a constant issue. At one point … Barletta suggested having Trump come to the Philadelphia area for a fundraiser in April or May, but the idea got scrapped immediately due to the president’s unpopularity in the region.”

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R): “There are six or seven other races that are much more attractive from a fundraising point of view than slogging it out in a state like Pennsylvania. … People tend to like to win states like Montana or North Dakota, which are a lot less expensive than Pennsylvania. I get it. He’s going to have a hard time — he’s got to continue to show that his race is a viable race. … I think this race will be one of those races if they don’t fund, they’re going to kick themselves in November for not having funding.” (Washington Examiner)

“Barletta has leaned on Trump, who won the state by fewer than 50,000 votes. The president recorded a robocall for Barletta” that “went to ‘hundreds of thousands of registered Republicans across Pennsylvania’ on Monday. … Even Trump’s endorsement is a double-edged sword: Casey raised about $75,000 within 24 hours of Trump’s February endorsement of Barletta.”

“[P]ositive indicators for Democrats cropped up again Tuesday. While Republican turnout increased compared to 2014, Casey received 60,000 more votes than Barletta and [state Rep. Jim] Christiana combined, despite not drawing any primary challengers.”

Barletta at a Monday “conceded he was running against ‘a famous name’ in ‘a big state,’ and he expects Democrats to ‘throw everything at us that we’ve ever seen in our lives.’ Despite apparent national headwinds and an imposing incumbent … Barletta expressed plenty of confidence that he can bust the odds in November, just as the president did two years earlier. … Barletta pledged to help ‘make America great’ simply by supporting Trump, citing low unemployment, gains in the stock market, victories against ISIS, and nascent talks with North Korea during the president’s tenure. ‘What the hell is there not to like?’ he said, which invited applause.”

“In an interview during the party, Barletta said his path to victory in the general election runs through ‘the same blueprint that put Donald Trump over the top here in Pennsylvania’—by appealing to “Reagan Democrats [who] are now Trump Democrats’ and may be turned off by Casey’s ‘90 percent voting record with Elizabeth Warren.’”

“‘I don’t need as much money as Bob Casey,’ said Barletta, who assumes plenty of supportive outside groups will engage if the race determines control of the narrowly divided Senate. ‘Donald Trump didn’t need as much money as Hillary Clinton spent.” (National Journal)

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