HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The latest TV ad by Gov. Tom Corbett’s campaign is opening a new front in the Republican’s mass communication strategy, making President Barack Obama a central figure in the attack on Democratic front-runner Tom Wolf.
The 30-second spot unveiled Thursday is the first time the Corbett campaign has mentioned Obama in a TV ad, labeling Wolf as a “maxed-out donor” to Obama. It also says Wolf supports the president’s “disastrous Obamacare,” ”radical gun control agenda” and “war on PA coal jobs.”
“We believe that Pennsylvanians will not be in a hurry to import President Obama’s failed policies like Obamacare to Harrisburg,” Corbett campaign manager Mike Barley said.
It is running in only the Harrisburg and Johnstown TV markets, which are smaller and less expensive markets.
A Franklin and Marshall College poll released Thursday found that just 34 percent of Pennsylvania voters thought Obama was doing an excellent or good job, down from 46 percent in an October 2012 poll when he was running for re-election.
Up until Thursday, Corbett’s TV attack ads had tried to frame Wolf as a tax-avoiding millionaire and a tax-and-spend liberal. The campaign began airing the ad on the same day that Corbett’s administration agreed to accept billions of federal Medicaid dollars under a key provision of Obama’s signature 2010 health care law.
Obama had supported legislation to expand gun sale background checks in the wake of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, but the measure failed in Congress. Wolf also has said he would sign legislation to enact universal background checks, while Corbett opposes further gun control efforts.
Corbett has heaped scorn on Obama’s plan to reduce the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent over 25 years by ordering cuts in pollution discharged by America’s power plants, primarily those fueled by coal. Corbett calls it a “war on coal” that would damage Pennsylvania’s coal industry.
Wolf has expressed qualified support for the plan, saying it must be flexible enough to allow for changes and create economic opportunities. He also has said his administration would set “meaningful” emission-reduction targets for greenhouse gases. Corbett’s administration has set no such targets.
In a statement, the Wolf campaign called Corbett’s ad “more desperation from Tom Corbett.” Wolf, it said, supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms and knows that coal “is a vital part of Pennsylvania’s energy portfolio.”
With Corbett trailing in independent polls, Muhlenberg College political science professor and pollster Christopher Borick said the Corbett campaign appears to be testing new lines of attack to figure out how to cut Wolf’s lead.
“This is the Corbett campaign sending out a feeler as to what might stick in terms of eroding support for Wolf,” Borick said. “It’s pretty broad in its strokes.”
He said he would not be surprised to see it expand it to other TV markets, such as Pittsburgh. The election is Nov. 4.