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Casey upbeat about chances of upset in U.S. Senate race

October 31, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - U.S. Senate candidate Bob Casey sounded upbeat Monday when he told supporters that the contest between him and Republican incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum might be "the race that can point this country in a new direction."

Polls have consistently put Casey, Pennsylvania's treasurer and the Democratic nominee, ahead of Santorum, who is seeking a third six-year term. He criticized Santorum for what he called negative advertising, calling it "a desperate campaign from a candidate who is desperate."

Casey told about 100 supporters at the Franklin Fire Co. Social Hall that Santorum has voted with the Bush Administration 98 percent of the time and noted the Republican's recent comments that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is doing a "fine job."

"No one believes that. Not even many people in the Republican party believe that," Casey said. The number of Pennsylvanians killed in the war, he said, stands at 136 and "the number of wounded is into the tens of thousands."

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Casey said President Bush has lately been "using words like accountability and benchmarks" when speaking about the war.

"The only reason the president has been using some of those words ... is because there is an election," Casey said. Congress has "failed utterly and totally" on the war and the Nov. 7 election presents an opportunity for Democrats to take control of the House and Senate, he said.

Casey said he has a specific plan to lower the deficit by $1.3 trillion over the next decade that includes repealing tax cuts for those with incomes of more than $200,000 a year, which he said will generate $730 billion in new taxes. He said the estate tax, with exemptions of up to $3.5 million per individual and $7 million for couples, would raise another $300 billion.

A "corporate welfare commission" could save another $250 billion and "pay-as-you-go" rules for tax cuts and new spending would save more than $100 billion by requiring Congress to cut spending or raise taxes to offset tax cuts or spending on new programs.

As treasurer, Casey said he has been independent and taken on both parties, something he will do if elected next Tuesday.

He listed several measures he will support if elected, including health-care initiatives aimed at covering children and helping small businesses afford insurance. He said he also supports a national preschool program for all 4-year-olds.

Casey said Santorum is "trying to create hysteria and smear me" by running negative advertisements on terrorism in the campaign's final days.

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