McCain Tries to Make Inroads in the Rust Belt
PITTSBURGH — Sen. John McCain certainly has his work cut out for him in western Pennsylvania, where he is due to campaign today. Sen. John Kerry narrowly won the Keystone State by just two percentage points in 2004, but he carried Allegheny County — which includes Pittsburgh — by 15 points. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the April 22 Democratic primary by 10 points — and like virtually all Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia and State College, this is Clinton territory. Pittsburgh, and western Pennsylvania in general, should be a key region for McCain to focus his efforts to pick off swing state blue-collar Democrats who supported Clinton in the primary. However, McCain is not doing much in the way of public appearances here, outside of last night’s surprise visit to a popular Pittsburgh sandwich shop. This could be a big missed opportunity to make inroads in the Rust Belt.
Later, McCain will return to Ohio — he visited Cincinnati and Youngstown two weeks ago — to Portsmouth, a small town east of Cincinnati, on the Kentucky border. Portsmouth is part of the solidly Republican 2nd Congressional District, represented by Rep. Jean Schmidt — who you may remember for essentially calling Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Md.) a coward in 2005. McCain will host a town hall meeting at Portsmouth High School, which will likely give him the opportunity to answer questions from a friendly crowd — surely a welcome change after his meeting in Denver on Monday. McCain is visiting an area he is almost certain to carry in November — which raises the question of whether his time would be better spent in a different part of Ohio, a key battleground state.
McCain is then planning to take off for Detroit, where he will appear at a town hall meeting tomorrow. This completes a quick jaunt through three important swing states — any of which could potentially decide the election.