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Burns invites conservative support

Tim Burns, the Republican candidate for Congress in the 12th District, has campaigned on his opposition to House Democrats, in particular Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

At a Westmoreland County GOP gathering to endorse him on Friday, Burns listened as state Chairman Rob Gleason alluded to Pelosi's "extreme values" -- values spawned in the crucible of San Francisco politics and not shared, he said, by Southwestern Pennsylvanians.

Somerset County state Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar said Burns "is not ever going to work with Nancy Pelosi and (Vice President) Joe Biden."

Burns said his Democratic opponent, Mark Critz of Johnstown, "hangs with" Pelosi when he's in Washington.

Republican county Commissioner Charles Anderson urged supporters of Republican William Russell of Johnstown in the primary election "to set aside their differences and support Burns."

Russell, a retired Army officer who was the GOP standardbearer two years ago, is running against Burns, of Eighty Four, in the May 18 primary. Burns is running against Democrat Critz in the special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Rep. John P. Murtha.

Elaine Gowaty, the new Republican chairwoman in Westmoreland County, attended yesterday's event to show support for Burns, along with state Sen. Kim Ward of Hempfield, state Rep. Mike Reese of Mt. Pleasant, and Jim Cawley of Bucks County, the endorsed GOP candidate for lieutenant governor.

After the gathering, Burns said Metzgar was right: If elected, he does not see himself reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats on any issue.

"I would love for the Democrats to cross over to my conservative values," said Burns. "I would certainly never compromise my conservative values."

On the issue of Social Security, Burns said he was not ready to take a position, although he ruled out "privatization" by linking it to the stock market. Privatization of the government-run retirement fund once was widely popular among Republicans, including at one time President George W. Bush.

Burns said he has not worked out a "detailed" plan for what to do about Social Security, which will come under increasing pressure as a result of the upcoming wave of Baby Boomer retirements.

"My focus right now is to get elected," Burns said.

He said the $787 billion federal stimulus package passed in the early months of Obama administration was counterproductive, and he rejected a recent claim by President Obama that the measure prevented an even deeper recession.

"I don't believe the government can stimulate the economy," Burns said, adding that federal spending "will lengthen the slowdown."

Last month, the U.S. economy added more than 100,000 jobs, the third consecutive month of small employment gains. The administration took limited credit for the expansion while Republicans and some economists credited the gains to the cyclical nature of the economy, which is apparently coming out the severe slump.

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