HERSHEY -- Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says he suspected all along that he'd find himself in a tightening race for re-election when balloting drew near.
With recent polling showing Mr. Casey with a lead as narrow as 3 percentage points over Republican coal magnate Tom Smith, the freshman senator told reporters this morning that Pennsylvania often hosts close races and that the significant spending by his opponent has been a factor.
"I'm actually not a bit surprised," Mr. Casey said after his remarks at a Communications Workers of America event here this morning. "Way back in the spring, we began to prepare for this type of a race and I'm glad we did."
He took the optimistic view of the shrinking gap between the two contenders in public opinion polls, saying that people are now paying close attention to the differences between the two men.
The senator drew distinctions on their approaches to Medicare, trade agreements and tax policy during his speech to the regional union workers. He emphasized his support of the payroll tax cuts and for a bill to make it harder for call-center jobs to be sent overseas, and his opposition to trade deals that he said would have hurt Pennsylvania jobs.
"We're confronted now as a state and as country is a very clear choice," Mr. Casey said. "Whether we're going to elect or re-elect people that try to find common ground, try to bring people together and try to focus on priorities like jobs instead of bringing an ideological, extreme and radical agenda not just to the campaign but to the work they would do in Washington."
Harrisburg Bureau Chief Laura Olson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-4254. First Published October 23, 2012 1:00 AM