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Pa. will be election battleground

August 15, 2000

Pa. will be election battleground



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania will be the battleground state in the November presidential election, according to U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, whose own political future hinges on the upcoming election.

"Pennsylvania will be the No. 1 targeted state for the Bush campaign this fall," Santorum said Tuesday during a campaign swing through Chambersburg. "This could be the state that determines who the next president of the United States will be."

Santorum, Pennsylvania's junior GOP senator, told a group of about 150 supporters at Chambersburg's Memorial Park that he was told by Republican nominee George W. Bush that Pennsylvania and Ohio will be the decisive states in November.

A strong turnout for Bush could determine if Santorum prevails in his bid for re-election to a second term against the Democratic Senate nominee, U.S. Rep Ron Klink.

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Klink's name was never mentioned by Santorum during his hour-long visit. Instead he concentrated on his own record over the past six years and the Republican national agenda. He said the goal of the GOP is to "rebuild the core of our society, the American family."

He criticized President Clinton for vetoing Republican legislation to end the so-called "marriage penalty." He said eliminating the tax on the joint incomes of married couples would save those families an average of $1,400 a year.

"It's about as anti-family a tax as you can have," Santorum said.

Santorum said the federal tax bite on families has increased from 3 percent in the 1950s to 28 percent today. He said that increase has led to two-income families "just so you can maintain the standard of living you had in the 1950s."

"The more money you send to Washington, the less freedom you have," he said.

At the same time he criticized defense cuts made by the Clinton Administration, while boasting about money he helped secure for farmers affected by last year's drought and fruit growers hurt by the plum pox virus.

Santorum said defense spending has decreased from $315 billion in 1991 to $265 billion last year, without accounting for inflation. "That's a real cut and it's had a real impact on our readiness," he said.

"We've got a $2 trillion budget. I think we've got a little money to spend where we really have needs," he said of his efforts to get funding to relieve farmers affected by the drought and plum pox.

Santorum said the budget surpluses should be credited to the Republican-controlled Congress holding down spending and taxes, not the Clinton administration.

In 1994, then-U.S. Rep. Santorum visited Franklin County in a motor home during his Senate campaign. Tuesday he and the motor home were back for his re-election campaign.

"This is our family vacation ... That's my story and I'm sticking to it," Santorum told supporters at a picnic pavilion in the park. The campaign stop was billed as an ice cream social, one of 15 scheduled during his nine-day, 27-county tour.

"This is the 13th ice cream social we've had and I've got the notches in my belt to prove it," said Santorum, whose entourage included his wife Karen and five children, ages 9 years to 10 months.

Santorum narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Harris Wofford six years ago and credited the strong Republican turnout in rural Pennsylvania with that victory. In 1994, Santorum got 65 percent of the vote in Franklin County.

As of the end of June there were almost 41,000 registered Republicans in Franklin County, compared to 22,000 Democrats and less than 8,000 people registered as independents or with other parties.

"He is a guy that really shows integrity and character and we know character counts," said State Rep. Allan Egolf, R-Franklin.

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