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Underdog Swann gets warm reception

November 03, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Down by more than 20 points in two polls, Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann visited one of the state's Republican strongholds Thursday afternoon, riding into Chambersburg about halfway through a long day on the campaign trail.

Meeting with about 60 supporters outside the TB Woods plant, Swann said he had been on several radio talk shows and had made three or four public appearances before arriving in Chambersburg. The candidate said he would be making stops in Blair and Cambria counties before the day was done.

"Then we'll get up tomorrow morning and do it all over again," Swann said. The former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl X MVP said there will be no letup in his schedule despite the long odds in his race against Democratic incumbent Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

A Quinnipiac University poll Wednesday had the challenger trailing Rendell by 23 percent and a Keystone poll had him 25 points behind the governor.

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Accompanied by his wife, Charena, who is from Chambersburg, Swann asked those gathered beside his campaign bus to vote for him "so she can become the first lady of Pennsylvania."

The candidate said voters need to elect public servants who will not "then ask you to serve their careers."

"We need to make sure in Harrisburg we're responsive to the greater needs of the community," rather than just the state's big cities, Swann said.

He talked about his plans to cut taxes by $1 billion for "job creators," the small and mid-size businesses which he said are responsible for about 70 percent of the state's job growth.

Swann said he would roll back the state's personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 2.80 percent, the rate before Rendell took office, over a period of four to seven years.

The state should also reduce its corporate income tax, which at 9.9 percent is the second highest in the nation, Swann said. The state's inheritance tax also should be eliminated, he said.

"I don't believe you lead dull and gray lives," Swann said to senior citizens at the rally, referring to remarks Rendell made last month about many seniors enjoying boarding buses to go to casinos and play slot machines.

He criticized the governor for encouraging senior citizens to go out and "lose $30 or $40 a day" gambling.

"Anybody that really checks things out knows Rendell is doing a lot of things, but he's putting us deeper and deeper in debt," said Swann supporter Roger Beckner, the former chairman of the Franklin County Republican Committee.

"I just feel comfortable with him as a person. He doesn't have any hidden motives," said Kari Jenks, another supporter.

Swann told his supporters he needs them to encourage others to get to the polls Tuesday.

"That's where you really win or lose an election," he said.

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