Pennsylvania Senate candidate Katie McGinty on Tuesday pressured her rival to make a clear statement on his support for Donald Trump, seizing on the perception that the presidential nominee's unpopularity could be a weakness for vulnerable Republicans.
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, who is in a dead heat with McGinty, a Democrat, in a race that could determine the balance of power in the Senate , has not publicly endorsed Trump, but he has not ruled out supporting him. McGinty has made a point of trying to force him off balance on the issue.
"I think it is very disingenuous of Sen. Toomey to not come clean with the voters in this commonwealth and tell them that he’s standing with Donald Trump," McGinty said in a videotaped interview with The Courier Times of Bucks County. "He has said he unequivocally supports the Republican nominee. Well, that’s Donald Trump. And if he’s not supporting Donald Trump, let’s hear that, too."
Toomey was among a handful of swing-state Republican senators to skip the party's nominating convention in Cleveland last month — but he explained his absence by saying he had campaign obligations at home. And he has made several statements denouncing some of Trump's more controversial remarks — including Trump's recent attacks on the parents of a Muslim soldier who died in Iraq — without mentioning the GOP nominee by name.
Toomey spokesman Ted Kwong did not answer emailed questions about whether Toomey planned to endorse or disavow Trump. Instead, he referred to a column the Senator wrote in May in the Philadelphia Inquirer . In it, Toomey excoriated Trump's "vulgarity," "lack of appreciation for Constitutional limits on executive powers," and proposals to ban Muslims, but said he also found Clinton, "unacceptably flawed."
"As a Republican elected official, I am inclined to support the nominee of my party," Toomey wrote. He added that he could reconsider, but he hoped it would not have to.
"There could come a point at which the differences are so great as to be irreconcilable," he wrote.
Kwong also pointed out, in a statement issued to the Courier Journal, that the senator has frequently disagreed with Trump.
"While Pat Toomey has frequently disagreed with Donald Trump’s positions, Katie McGinty fully embraces Hillary Clinton’s dangerous national security agenda which includes giving hundreds of billions to Iran and closing the terrorist prison at Guantanamo," Kwong, told the paper.
The Pennsylvania Senate race is rated a Tossup by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call. But to maintain an edge in a state where registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans , Toomey will have to win over some Democrats and independents, political analysts told The (Allentown) Morning Call Wednesday.