Trump to name former Specter staffer ‘senior advisor’ in PA

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

David Urban, a Beaver County native and West Point graduate, will be named senior adviser for Donald Trump’s Pennsylvania operations, with Ted Christian serving as the state director, a source close to the billionaire’s campaign told the Tribune-Review.

David Urban
David Urban

Urban, who grew up in Hopewell Township, is a Washington, D.C.-based Republican strategist and former long time chief of staff to the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.

Since mid May, Urban has been serving as deputy director of caucus operations in Cleveland, where he has been integrating the campaign staff with members of the national party and organizers of the convention.

Christian is also a native Pennsylvanian, hailing from Bucks County. He has been working in the state since March organizing for Trump’s successful primary in which the billionaire businessman captured all 67 counties over rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The announcements come as a number of local Republican leaders in Pennsylvania complain that they’ve heard little or nothing from the campaign, prompting Politico to write “Trump’s Pennsylvania campaign is missing in action.”

Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released a statement Thursday morning praising the news.

“David Urban and Ted Christian are great additions to Donald Trump’s campaign team,” Gleason said. “David and Ted share the strong Pennsylvania work ethic that’s made our Commonwealth so great. They’re both deeply committed to improving the lives of their fellow Pennsylvanians. Mr. Trump added solid members to his team that we’re excited to work with as we Make America Great Again.”

Clinton plans coordinated anti-Trump effort in Pennsylvania

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks on national security in San Diego, California, June 2, 2016.   (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks on national security in San Diego, California, June 2, 2016. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

Contrary to media reports after Hillary Clinton’s big ad buy skipped Pennsylvania, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for president is not taking anything for granted here, campaign sources say.

She’s preparing to send out an army, of sorts.

Two days after a Quinnipiac University poll showed Clinton and GOP rival Donald Trump  in a virtual tie despite Trump’s awful month of PR, she is deploying political allies to move the numbers her way and remind reluctant Democrats that she has their best interests at heart.

Tomorrow, the state Democratic Party and the national party in will hold a press conference with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Labor Council President Jack Shea,  and Labor Council Treasurer Sylvia Wilson, according to sources in the Clinton campaign.

The press conference will be held at the Allegheny County Labor Council  offices at 401 Wood Street, Suite 501 in Pittsburgh to “discuss the disastrous economic impact a Trump presidency would have on Allegheny County and Pennsylvania.”

Governor Tom Wolf and congressman Mike Doyle, a Forest Hill Democrat fresh from the sit-in at the U.S. Capitol, are expected to send out strong statements against Trump in a campaign email.

All of the Democratic regulars will condemn Trump’s economic message and agenda as “dangerous” echoing Clinton’s recent speeches.

Today the University of Virginia made a slight but important tweak to their ratings on the Keystone State, moving it from “Likely Democratic” to “Leans Democratic” based on recent polling, shifting demographics and Trump’s pledge to spend time and resources in the state.

Yesterday Trump sent out an email blasting Clinton on her “war on coal” reminding voters that she said “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business” at a town hall in March. The mailing did not, of course, include the context of the statement or the fact Clinton immediately followed it with a pledge of retraining for different jobs.

Trump said in statement that in his first 100 days of office he would lift anti-worker energy restrictions; Clinton for her part said Trump “Shouldn’t have his hands on our economy.”

On Monday NBC noted that a focus group held in Pittsburgh conducted on behalf of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania showed that voters were still feeling strong support for Trump even after his series of publicity blunders. So it makes perfect sense for Clinton to remain proactive and to send out surrogates to reinforce what she stands for with local elected officials whom voters view as trustworthy.

Both Clinton and Trump recently made Pittsburgh one of their first retail campaign stops as presumptive nominees.

This story was first posted at 3:12 p.m. Thursday, June 23, 2016

Live from Washington D.C. – It’s occupy the House!

DoyleTweetBY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

LIVE from Washington, D.C. – It’s occupy the House!

Congressman Mike Doyle, a Pittsburgh Democrat and 30-year member of the Pennsylvania delegation, said in a phone interview that he and his fellow Democrats are not budging from the floor of the House chamber until Speaker of the House Paul Ryan brings a vote on banning people on the terror watch list from being able to purchase guns.

“We are going to shut this place down until he allows a vote,” Doyle said, as he sat with about 30 fellow Democratic House members, including Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.

Well into his fourth hour of sitting on the blue carpet – impassioned and in the moment – Doyle said the Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed a vote, so should Ryan.

“The reason Paul Ryan isn’t letting this come for a vote is pure cowardice,” he said.

Sen. Bob Casey, a Scranton Democrat who has made a dramatic change in his views on gun control, stopped by the chamber as a sign of solidarity, his spokesperson said.

Doyle said the shooting in Orlando might have been halted had banning people on the no fly list from buying guns been passed. The shooter had been on the list for about 10 months, but was removed from the list after the FBI investigated him again in 2014 and dropped the investigation after no red flags appeared.

Both law enforcement and the ACLU oppose the proposal to ban people on the terror list from purchasing guns – law enforcement because it could blow open an investigation and the ACLU on constitutional grounds.

“Law enforcement’s position on this does not sway me at all,” said Doyle Wednesday afternoon.

“All Ryan did for (the Orlando victims) was a moment of silence and then he forgot them. He forgot the victims of Sandy Hook too. All those children,” Doyle said.

Doyle said if a similar gun measure had come up when Democrats held the supermajority (House, Senate and White House) in 2009 and 2010, he would have been the first to vote for it.

“We are not going to leave this floor until we get what we want,” Doyle said, but he did note that it might be painful when that time comes. The 62-year-old lawmaker joked the hardest part might be the prospect of getting up off the floor with any modicum of grace having sat for such a long time.

This story was first posted at 3:38 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Occupy the Hill: Democratic House members stage sit-in to force gun vote

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

Led by Civil Rights icon, Rep. John Lewis, about 30 Democratic members of the United State House of Representatives literally sat down on the House chamber floor Wednesday and refused to move, in an attempt to force a vote on gun control.

Forest Hills Democrat Mike Doyle, who represents all of Pittsburgh and parts of Allegheny County, was among them and tweeted from the sit-in.

MikeDoyle01

Doyle’s office confirmed that the protest violated House rules, controlled by the Sergeant of Arms.

That said, the House is no stranger to staged protests. In 1973 a protest was instigated by freshman members of the Democratic Caucus when they gained control of the House Floor for roughly four hours to protest not having a bigger voice as freshmen.

It happened again in 1995, again with Democrats, over Bill Clinton’s budget: House members took turns making speeches that criticized Congress’s inability to resolve the impasse and stayed on the floor for more than two hours.

Lewis, the last surviving speaker at Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington, tweeted at the beginning of the sit-in:

LewisThe first moments of the protest was broadcast over C-Span, but then the cameras stopped broadcasting.

cspan

The lack of televised coverage caused some confusion in the twittersphere, with some claiming Republicans had “taken control” of the C-Span cameras.

Not so.

The event is not being televised because the Republican leadership gaveled the House out of session, and the cameras only broadcast when legislators are in session, a formality of House rules. As Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian explained:

cameras2

So… the 30 plus members took to social media for attention using various hashtags including #NoBillNoBreak, #goodtrouble, #wheresthebill and #nomoresilence.

camerasHow long will the lawmakers sit? Will they be removed for breaking House rules?

Ultimately the Seargant of Arms is controlled by the Speakers Office, giving Paul Ryan yet another headache to deal with.

First posted 12:54 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, 2016

U.S. Chamber launches hamster wheel ad against McGinty’s senate bid

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty can’t jump off the Hamster wheel of energy taxation – at least that’s how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce portrays her in an ad they produced as part of an overall eight-figure campaign that will begin airing on broadcast and cable television in Pittsburgh this week.

The commercial itself claims McGinty has a bad habit of taxing energy, considered vital to the economic growth in Western Pennsylvania.

McGinty is challenging Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey.

“It’s no surprise that Senator Toomey, who advocated for eliminating taxes for corporations, doesn’t want oil and gas companies to pay their fair share and let Pennsylvania families to foot the bill,” said McGinty campaign spokesman Josh Levitt. “While Toomey’s put special interests ahead of the middle class, Katie helped bring 3,000 jobs in the energy sector to PA. No wonder his dark money allies want to distract from his damaging record.”

The Chamber ad is part of the group’s effort to help hold the Republican senate majority. It’s also running ads in tough races in Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Arizona.

The ad’s release coincides with Tuesday’s breaking news that Royal Dutch Shell has given the green light to build a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker that proposes to transform the energy economy of Western Pennsylvania. The plant will be located  on the banks of the Ohio River in Beaver County.

There is no shade between McGinty and Toomey in the Pennsylvania senate race: last month’s Quinnipiac University poll showed 45 percent of Pennsylvania’s voters support Toomey, while 44 percent support McGinty.

Toomey has taken heat for not supporting a vote on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, while McGinty is facing scrutiny over a Buzzfeed story that showed her claim of being the first in her family to attend college to be untrue.

This story was originally posted 11:55 a.m. Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hillary’s foreign policy speech lived up to the hype

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks on national security in San Diego, California, June 2, 2016.   (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks on national security in San Diego, California, June 2, 2016. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

Hillary Clinton lived up to the hype.

That’s a first in her campaign for president this cycle.

Major news and cable networks had hyped the Democratic frontrunner’s foreign policy address, whispered to be a take-down of the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

On Wednesday afternoon Clinton stepped to the podium in San Diego, Calif.,and delivered.

“Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different, they are dangerously incoherent,” Clinton began, then went for the kill. “They’re not even really ideas: just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies. He’s not just unprepared; he’s temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.”

In a year of self-inflicted campaign and personal stumbles, miscalculations and malaise, Clinton proved when pushed, she’s got game.

Gone was the rigid, almost academic scold she’s had a hard time shaking in a cycle dragged to the point of embarrassment by rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ insistence on staying in a race that is mathematically impossible for him to win.

Instead, Clinton embraced passion as well as precision.

She contrasted her plan to fight ISIS with Trump’s claim that he has a plan but it’s just secret. She took him to task for proposing to withdraw the United States’ security alliance with Japan if it doesn’t start paying for it, and she attacked his remarks about negotiating lower payments to creditors, a bankruptcy-style move experts said would upend world financial markets.

She used all as examples of Trump’s perilous incompetency.

“He believes we can treat the US economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world, which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experienced in 2008,” Clinton said. “Those are the words, my friends, of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.”

Clinton’s speech peeled back the veneer to show what the November contest between the two New Yorkers will look like, at least from her side of the battle.

In was clear today that Clinton will be marketing herself as the only truly legitimate candidate in this race.

Whether it will work is far from determined, but it did mark her most brilliant and authentic moment in the election thus far.

This story was first posted at 5:26 p.m. Thursday, June 2, 2016