Democrats, Republicans hold events to boost enthusiasm for election day
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
WEST CHESTER — Local Democrats and Republicans gathered this weekend at separate events designed to boost enthusiasm ahead of Tuesday’s elections — headlined by the race for president between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney — but shared one message: the election will be close and every vote is needed.
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, visited the Obama for America office on Gay Street, Saturday morning and addressed a packed crowd of more than 100 supporters, crammed into virtually every lack nook and cranny available in the strip mall store front.
On Sunday morning, U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith addressed a boisterous crowd of some 40 Republican supporters in front of the Chester County Republican Committee’s office on Church Street.
Although the specifics of their message were different, local Democrats and Republicans both said they knew how close races in Chester County from president on down on the ballot were likely to be and that supporters needed to keep working the phones and knocking on doors right up until election day to get their candidates elected.
Biden, a frequent visitor to Chester County — her home in Greenville, Del. is just minutes away from the county, and one of her two masters degrees was earned at West Chester University — offered thanks to the workers in the West Chester Obama field office, and stressed how important their work on behalf of Barack Obama and Democrats has been.
“I want to thank you, for all that you are doing for this campaign, in this election,” she said. “We have three days left and we simply could not do this without you. I’ve been traveling all around the country the last couple of days and really I think this is about people’s lives.”
She spoke about the importance of continuing to “move forward” — and not revert to the policies of the George W. Bush Administration, which she suggested Gov. Mitt Romney would embrace and push the country back into financial turmoil, all while cutting taxes for the wealthy, and slashing public programs such as Medicaid and Medicare and education funding.
Republicans, meanwhile, braved a cold, blustery morning outside, to greet Smith and boost enthusiasm for the GOP ticket. The number of attendees may have been limited by last-minute changes to the schedule, prompted by the decision of the Romney campaign to add a stop in Bucks County, Sunday.
Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh introduced Smith, who is attempting to unseat U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr.
“Those of us who have been on the Tom Smith train for a while are extremely excited,” Welsh said. “In the beginning, this race was 19-20 points and everyone was sure he wouldn’t close the gap. But let me tell you something, not only has Tom closed the gap, but they are neck and neck. It is a very exciting race.”
Smith spoke to the crowd and thanked them for the warm support he’s seen while running for U.S. Senate. It is the passion of supporters like those in Chester County, Smith said, that the race has tightened so dramatically.
“The biggest reason is because of you,” Smith said. I know that to be true, I know how hard you’ve been working on this campaign and for the future of our children. It is I, who need to thank you and I do. I wholeheartedly just thank you for everything you’ve done.
“We only have another two days to keep it up, to keep pushing on,” Smith told the crowd. “Wednesday morning, I want us all to be able to stand up and say ‘America is not done, yet.’ “
Also on hand were Chester County Commissioner Terrence Ferrell, State Representative Dan Truitt and former County Commissioner Colin Hanna, showing their support for the Republican slate.
In addition to Biden at the Democratic event Saturday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter spoke to the crowd. Nutter derided as cynical and pointless, a late move by Republicans to attempt to contest Pennsylvania.
“We know what Pennsylvania can do,” Nutter said. “There’s some other folks trying to run around Pennsylvania, after ignoring the state all this time. They have bought every possible thing they can everywhere else and what to try to dump millions of dollars into Pennsylvania. Well, let me deliver a very clear message: we’re not for sale, we can’t be bought.”
Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta and Democratic County Committee chair Michele Vaughn were also on hand to offer their support for the Democratic ticket.