Barack Obama picked up a critical endorsement in Pennsylvania today, when Sen. Bob Casey Jr. decided to announce his endorsement of him at a rally in Pittsburgh. “I believe in my heart that there is one person whose uniquely qualified to lead us in that new direction and that is Barack Obama,” Casey said.
There is no doubt that the more conservative Casey will help Obama with a state full of white, older, conservative Democrats. The Casey family name carries a great deal of weight here in my home state because of the legacy of Casey’s father, former governor, the late Bob Casey Sr.
In a race that has become just as important as the primaries, Bob Casey Jr. was an undecided super delegate. It has been reported in local newspapers that Casey was impressed with the Obama has handled the racial controversy that popped up around the comments of his former pastor.Casey will help Obama with PA voters. The lending of his support also helps blunt the worry in the state that Obama is too liberal and inexperienced.
However, the handling of the Casey endorsement is revealing an inexperienced mistake that the Obama campaign is making in PA. Casey’s strength is in the much more conservative part of the state between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, which is commonly called the “T.” Because of this, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to roll out the Casey endorsement in older, more liberal Pittsburgh.
An endorsement by a figure like a former mayor would carry much more weight in the city. Pittsburgh is Clinton country. The city is old school Democrat, and adores the Clintons. It is the last of the party machine type cities, and not a good place for Obama’s message.
Scheduling probably determined where the Casey endorsement was given, but with more than 3 weeks to go before the primary, the campaign could have selected a more receptive area for the endorsement.
Pennsylvanians outside the two big cities love retail politics. The Obama campaign needs to realize this, get their candidate out of Pittsburgh/Philadelphia and into the state. PA is a big state, but the campaign has lots of time before the vote. Obama should be crisscrossing the state, and not limiting himself to the cities.
The assumption is that Clinton has these areas locked up, but Bob Casey beat Rick Santorum by winning the cities and gaining support in the “T.” Casey could do the same thing for Obama.
I doubt that Casey’s endorsement is enough to carry Obama to victory in the state, but it will help close the gap, and adds another super delegate to Obama’s total. The end game for Obama in Pennsylvania should be to cut into Clinton’s margin of victory as much as possible. That is why this endorsement is so critical.