Former President Bill Clinton led an 11th hour get-out-the-vote rally in Market Square today as a long campaign headed to its climax with Tuesday's balloting.
In his new role as surrogate-in-chief, Mr. Clinton was barnstorming the state, heading to a list of Eastern Pennsylvania stops after the Downtown event.
His voice betraying the toll of his heavy campaign schedule, Mr. Clinton told the crowd, "To me the election is fairly simple -- who is more likely to restore the middle class ... I think it's the candidate who got off the campaign tail and got to work on hurricane Sandy with Democrats and Republicans alike."
Joining him under gray, cold skies were partisans including Sen. Bob Casey, facing a surprisingly robust challenge from GOP businessman Tom Smith, and Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, who is battling to defend his newly drawn district against Republican Keith Rothfus.
Mr. Critz introduced the former president, who has made multiple appearances for him in the past. For the embattled incumbent, who has boasted of his independence from the White House, it was the first time in memory that he had appeared at an Obama event.
The Clinton visit comes in response to the Republicans' late effort to capture Pennsylvania, a state largely ignored at the presidential level until 10 days ago. Among the partisans who cheered Mr. Clinton were Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, Rep. Mike Doyle, Leo Gerard, the president of the USW, and Joe Grushecky, the rock guitarist who had appeared with Bruce Springsteen at an Oakland concert/rally last weekend.
"We turned it around and got the country going in the right direction," said Mr. Trumka. "Tomorrow were going to continue in that direction."
Denouncing Republican Mitt Romney's call for new tax cuts, USW President Leo Gerard said, "At what point is enough enough for him and his rich cronies."
The string of Clinton events across the state follow a Sunday night Romney rally in Bucks County, where the GOP nominee attracted a crowd estimated at 30,000 on one of his few appearances in the state.
James O'Toole: email@example.com or 412-263-1562 First Published November 5, 2012 5:45 AM