Rendell talks politics at Press Club luncheon
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HARRISBURG -- Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell returned to his role of political prognosticator on Monday, predicting that unless Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney makes a splash during the first debate next week, the contest, essentially, will be over.
Mr. Rendell, the Philadelphia Democrat who preceded current Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, offered his assessment of the top-of-the-ticket race and other issues during an appearance at the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon.
During his remarks, Mr. Rendell said that he believes polls showing a continued lead for President Barack Obama are "fairly accurate."
The tipping point could be in the first debate, Mr. Rendell said, describing Mr. Romney as good at offering his ideas in short sound bites and Mr. Obama as an orator less suited for a debate's condensed format.
He added that Mr. Romney would have few options to make up for a poor initial debate showing, predicting that super PAC dollars will shift to congressional candidates if he fails to surpass expectations.
"I think there's a chance that Gov. Romney will do well and maybe even have a game-changer to make this a tight race down the road," Mr. Rendell said. "If he doesn't, it will snowball rapidly."
However, he cautioned that too strong of a lead for the incumbent president could spell trouble for congressional and state Democrats seeking an excited base to turn out on Nov. 6. "We've got to worry about turnout," Mr. Rendell said.
The two-term governor also delved back into state government, replying to a question on plummeting school district test scores by arguing the importance of education funding and pointing toward Mr. Corbett's no-tax-hike promise.
He said his successor "is doing exactly what he told you he would -- and he's no wuss."
"He told you that he signed a no-tax pledge ... you should have understood what that meant," Mr. Rendell said. "It was as clear as the nose on your face. It meant everything including education would be cut and cut severely. And the governor is just doing what he said he would do."
The Corbett administration has attributed the low test scores to earlier results being inflated by testing improprieties that led to new security measures.
Mr. Rendell also poked fun at House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, commending the GOP floor leader for his "courageous" remark at a Republican event in June about how the voter ID law would allow Mr. Romney to win Pennsylvania.
"He told the truth," Rendell said. "... In just a magnificent performance of honesty and openness and transparency in government, Representative Turzai told us right what it was all about -- to make it easier for Gov. Romney to carry the state. Does anyone doubt that that's true?"
Asked about a return to politics, the man who served as district attorney and mayor before his eight years in Harrisburg quipped that there's still a position was of interest to him: emperor.
As the crowd chuckled, he explained that he finds the legislative process too slow and "you need too many people to agree with you," and the lengthy slog of a presidential race also is not appealing. The vice presidency, however, does hold some allure, he said.
"It's a nine-week campaign, you don't have to raise money, you win, you get a very nice house -- the Naval Observatory is beautiful -- you don't do a lot, it certainly won't tax your health," he said. "But as I've said before, the presidential candidate would have to be crazy to pick someone like me."
First Published September 24, 2012 3:28 pm