McGinty gets on biggest stage in Pennsylvania US Senate race

Associated Press

Democratic Party officials gave Katie McGinty another big gift in addition to millions of dollars in campaign help in her bid to beat Pennsylvania's Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in the November election.

Katie McGinty addresses a reporter's question after casting her vote Tuesday, April 26, 2016  in Wayne, Pa. Former Congressman Joe Sestak looks to hold off McGinty, the party-endorsed candidate,  and win the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, setting up a rematch with the Republican incumbent Pat Toomey. (Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

When she spoke Thursday evening at the Democratic National Convention in her native Philadelphia, she was one of only two U.S. Senate candidates to get such a high-profile speaking slot.

It was likely to be McGinty's biggest stage of the campaign, with millions watching on TV and thousands more on hand in the Wells Fargo Center as Democrats try to wrestle away control of the chamber. U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois also is speaking Thursday evening as she challenges Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk for his seat.

For McGinty, it is a marked contrast to the first-term Toomey.

He skipped last week's Republican National Convention, saying he preferred to use the time to campaign in Pennsylvania. McGinty has endorsed the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, while Toomey remains a critic of the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, and has not given his endorsement.

Polls show a competitive race between Toomey and McGinty in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 4-to-3.

McGinty made a pitch to the middle class by playing up her Irish-immigrant grandparents, her parents' blue-collar jobs and the idea that it was once enough to succeed by working hard, regardless of status.

"For my brothers and sisters and me, that was the deal," McGinty's said. "But for so many families in America today, that deal is no longer on the table. The truth is that fear and economic anxiety reach far and wide across our country. Hard-working people feeling anxious and insecure."

The choice, McGinty said, is how the country responds. She attacked Trump and Toomey for what she called responding with more fear, blame and poison.

"That's the choice of Donald Trump, my opponent, Pat Toomey, and the whole Republican gang: Blame the Mexicans. Blame the Muslims. Blame the government. Build a wall," McGinty said. "We also have a different choice. We can respond to that fear and that anxiety with something that's true to our greatest traditions and strengths. We can work together, and we can believe once again in the power of opportunity. We can know that diversity is our strength. We can stand for the dignity of every person."

The Toomey campaign on Thursday countered with a rundown of tax increases that McGinty had supported in her career as a top official in President Bill Clinton's administration and in Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's administration.

"Whether it's pushing record-setting, middle-class tax hikes that were rejected by both parties or crushing Pennsylvania's energy jobs and sending utility bills soaring, McGinty has already shown how devastating her extreme agenda would be to Pennsylvania families," the campaign said.

McGinty apologizes for calling Toomey an 'a--hole'

McGinty's speech came three days after she called Toomey an expletive during a news conference at a labor union's Philadelphia office to promote a higher minimum wage. She apologized, but Republicans have seized on that and planned to air a TV ad in Philadelphia to coincide with McGinty's speech. The ad, which bleeps out the word, pastes video of the remark into material from a widely aired Clinton campaign TV ad that shows Clinton speaking at a podium and children watching Trump on TV while he makes vulgar or abrupt remarks. But instead of Trump, it shows children watching McGinty's vulgar remark on TV.