Bill Clinton makes last-minute pitch for Obama in Pittsburgh's Market Square
A-listers from both parties on Monday urged supporters to make last-minute pitches for President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney as the campaigns reacted to polls showing a tightening contest in Pennsylvania.
Former President Bill Clinton, his voice hoarse from an eight swing-state tour of stump speeches and temperatures in the 30s, pumped up thousands of Obama supporters in Market Square a few hours before Republican Gov. Tom Corbett implored his party faithful in the DoubleTree hotel in Green Tree.
"To me, this election is fairly simple. Who's more likely to restore the middle class and give poor people a chance to work their way into it?" Clinton told a crowd of thousands that filled the middle of the square, Downtown. "It's the candidate who got off the campaign trail and went to work on Hurricane Sandy with Republicans."
The remark was a reference to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who praised Obama's response to the disaster.
Corbett told an enthusiastic crowd of about 250 people at a rally for U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith, a coal mining magnate from Armstrong County, that the GOP ticket led by Romney and running mate Paul Ryan has "the momentum behind us" for a victory on Tuesday.
"We're enthused, we believe in our candidate and we believe that our candidate can win," Corbett said, noting that he attended a campaign appearance on Sunday with Romney that drew more than 30,000 supporters to "a farm field in Bucks County."
"The road was backed up for three miles with people trying to get in," the governor said. "People started arriving at 3 p.m. for an event that didn't begin until 6."
In addition to Corbett and Smith, the rally in Green Tree featured D. Raja of Mt. Lebanon, who is running against Democrat Matt Smith for the 37th Ditrict state Senate seat; congressional candidate Keith Rothfus of Sewickley, running against incumbent Mark Critz of Johnstown; John Maher of Upper St. Clair, who is running for auditor general against Democrat Eugene DePasquale of York County; David Freed of Cumberland County, who faces attorney general candidate Kathleen Kane of Lackawanna County; and state treasurer candidate Diana Irey Vaughan of Washington County, who is trying to unseat incumbent Democrat Rob McCord.
Also speaking were U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, Allegheny County GOP Chairman Jim Roddey and U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, who drew a raucous response when he told the crowd that Democrats are "out of ideas, out of luck, out of platitudes and out of time."
Romney visited Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida on Sunday and Monday. Obama visited Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa, the starting line for his 2008 campaign.
Clinton joined many Democrats at the Pittsburgh rally who are involved in close, high-profile races, including Critz, who introduced Clinton, and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton.
"We're the middle class. We're the 99 percent. We need to stand together," Critz told the crowd.
Recent polls indicate both Democrats are in tight contests with their Republican challengers.
Others joining Clinton were U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, and labor leaders Leo Gerard, head of the United Steelworkers, and Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO.
The presence here of Clinton, the Democrats' cheerleader-in-chief, signals to many that the presidential race in traditionally left-leaning Pennsylvania could be tightening.
Obama and Romney recently began airing campaign commercials in the state, which Obama won by a large margin in 2008 and which hasn't supported a Republican for president since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
"If he's here, it means Pennsylvania is up for grabs," Obama supporter Patrick Connelly, 56, of Mars said after the rally. "It's going to be close."
Staff writer Tony LaRussa contributed to this report. Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.