Western Pennsylvania woman speaks hard truth to Democrats in Philly

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@tribweb.com

It wasn’t the message they expected or even wanted to hear, but Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia got an earful from Erin McClelland, of Natrona Heights on Thursday.

McClelland, who’s challenging Republican incumbent Keith Rothfus in the 12th Congressional District, delivered a fiery lunchtime speech exhorting her party leaders to focus more on rural areas and rural needs.

She said people from other states go saucer-eyed when they learn Pennsylvania has two senators, 18 congressmen and not one woman among them.

Female Democratic candidates, she said, labor under the weight of three words: “She can’t win.”

But McClelland didn’t chalk that up to sexism; instead, she said the Democratic party increasingly is pushing away its own rural voters.

Her district is majority Democrat, but increasingly votes Republican.

“These were Democrats. We’re just starting to lose them, and we’re losing more of them every year,” she said.

“The Republican party scares them, and the Democratic party insults them,” McClelland said.

McClelland said if Democrats want to win rural voters away from Donald Trump, they need to show them some respect.

“We call them stupid. They’re not stupid. They are working class people who understand the Constitution incredibly well, are devoted to their faith and work hard,” McClelland said.

Many are fed up with a government “that has lied to them and failed them,” she said. Trump is “saying what they’d like to say to the government.”

McClelland said, “They’re looking for nothing but a fair deal, and they can’t get even that.”

This story was first posted Thursday, July 29, 2016 at 6:31 p.m.