The surprise endorsement by the state’s junior senator will help introduce Obama to those categories of voters who’ve been least enthusiastic about his candidacy, in particular that of the white working-class.
But Senator Hillary Clinton, who believes she can maintain her double-digit lead in Pennsylvania through polling day on April 22, has the state’s chief executive, Gov. Ed Rendell, in her corner.
The governor was elected with the sort of coalition that has propelled the Illinois senator to more than 20 primary victories — white liberals, the young and African Americans.
Pundits feel that the Irish-American Casey is helping to level the playing field. It’s thought that his backing will also encourage older voters and Catholics to take a second look at Obama.
“I believe in my heart that there is one person who’s uniquely qualified to lead us in that new direction and that is Barack Obama,” he said last week.
Clinton maintains an edge in a state that is similar in its demographics to Ohio, which she won decisively last month.
And the New York senator has deep political roots in the state. Rendell said: “During the ’90s, Bill and Hillary Clinton did more for America and more for Americans and more for Pennsylvania and more for Pennsylvanians than any president and first lady in my lifetime.”
Hillary Clinton has also called upon out-of-state supporters to make the pitch for her, notably among them some members of an Irish-American family that haven’t defected to the Obama side. Robert Kennedy Jr. and his sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, wrote a letter to the state’s Catholics detailing her policies on health care, foreclosures and fuel bills. (In contrast, their mother Ethel Kennedy introduced Obama as “the next president of the United States” at a ceremony two years ago, and was perhaps the first person to have used the phrase in connection with the Illinois senator.)
Clinton can also rely on the Pennsylvania’s best-known member of the House, Rep. Jack Murtha. The long-time congressman announced his support for her bid to be president on March 19.
However, one of his prot