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After dropping from the presidential race, former Sen. Rick Santorum endorsed Mitt Romney in a middle –of-the-night e-mail to his supporters.  He’ll be showing his support in broad daylight Saturday as he joins GOP Senate candidate Tom Smith in opening a Romney victory office in the new Republican heartland of Westmoreland County.

They’ll be christening the Romney HQ on N. Maple Avenue in Greensburg at about 10 a.m. as the Republicans bolster their grass roots presence.  Without the burden of a primary fight, the Obama forces  have established a considerable head start in building out their campaign infrastructure in the state, with more than a score of offices already on the ground.  The GOP folks say they’re confident that they have the time and resources to catch up.

At about the same time, across the state, Sen. Pat Toomey will be helping to open another Romney office in Montgomery County, in the vote-rich suburbs of Philadelphia.

The GOP candidate himself will be in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday.

Obama in Beaver

Freelancer Sharon Nass follows up on President Obama's stop at a Beaver bakery last week, in a story for the P-G's suburban section:

Kretchmar's Bakery in Beaver had a sweet surprise Friday when President Barack Obama unexpectedly visited while traveling to Pittsburgh for the final stop of his "Betting On America" bus tour through Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

The stop was part of a lunch-time tour through Beaver County that included visits with various local businesses.

Bakery owner Lincoln Kretchmar said his reaction to the news that the president would be stopping at his establishment was one of shock and awe.

"A lot of things race through your head, like what do you say to the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world?" he said.

"You're overwhelmed by different things that start jumping into you head when you get news like that. It was pretty amazing."

Mr. Kretchmar said it was business as usual Friday until Secret Service agents came in about 1 p.m. and informed them that the president would be stopping by. The store was closed and employees were herded into a room while a team of agents swept the building.

About 20 minutes later, Mr. Obama arrived.

It was an experience that Mr. Kretchmar described as surreal.

"Time seemed to slow down and speed up," he said. "It was one of those weird situations. My recollection of time is probably skewed a bit."

Mr. Kretchmar had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Obama and exchange some light-hearted conversation.

At one point, he said, the president commented that Mr. Kretchmar was probably the tallest person in Beaver County. At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, Mr. Kretchmar said that's a pretty safe bet; however, he said, the president doubted that he was 6-foot-4 and told him that he must be at least 6-foot-8.

The president spent about 30 minutes in the bakery visiting with employees before buying an apple pie and a dozen chocolate chip cookies, which he said he was going to share with his press corps.

Dee Meers of Beaver had the pleasure of waiting on Mr. Obama and fulfilling his request for an all-American apple pie. She said it was an amazing experience and one that she never imagined she would have.

"It was great," she said. "At first, it was a little nerve-wracking, but then I thought, he's just a human being like the rest of us."

She described the president as very down-to-earth, very friendly and a good tipper, too.

His purchases totaled $13.20, and he gave Ms. Meers $20 and told her to keep the change. She said the $6.80 tip will be framed alongside his autographed cash register receipt and a picture of her with the president.

Before leaving, Ms. Meers said, Mr. Obama left them with some parting advice.

"He told us we are his boss, so if we want things done, then we have to elect the people that are going to do it," she said. "He was very nice."

President Barack Obama looks over the dessert options while stopping in Beaver during his "Betting on America" bus tour. He purchased pie and cookies Friday at Kretchmar's Bakery on Third Street.

State Rep. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, confirmed today that he will indeed run for John Pippy's state Senate seat against Republican D. Raja.

Greg Parks of Pleasant Hills had been the Democratic nominee for the 37th District seat after waging a write-in campaign, but pulled out of the race a couple weeks ago. Democratic committee members from the district may meet as soon as next week to confirm Smith as their replacement.

There will be no special election for the seat, just the regularly scheduled general on Nov. 6.

UPDATE from Raja campaign manager Jennifer Haas:

"The voters will have a clear choice between a liberal Harrisburg politician who was handpicked by party bosses and an independent leader and job creator who will get our economy moving agin. Despite Matt Smith's rhetoric his record of voting for higher taxes, more spending, and job killing policies are out of step with the 37th District. We look forward to a vigorous debate on those issues in the month's to come."

Smith's full statement is after the jump:

Read more...

The Romney campaign is going on offense on the outsourcing issue today with a new ad using factchecking groups and a 2008 primary season complaint by Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama.

"When a President doesn't tell the truth, how can we trust him to lead?," a narrator says in ad, which features Clinton saying, "shame on you, Barack Obama."

No word yet if the spot is running in Pa, but we assume it will, given Clinton's popularity in the state. (UPDATE: Nope, it's not running here says PoliticsPa.

The ad comes the same day as Romney's hometown Boston Globe has a big story saying multiple SEC reports say he remained CEO of Bain Capital past 1999, when companies owned by Bain (as the Obama camp has pointed out) put companies out of business and laid off workers.

We'll update if we get response from the Obama team.

UPDATE From Obama campaign spox Lis Smith

“Mitt Romney’s ad is based on the false premise that he left Bain Capital in February 1999, an assertion that today’s Boston Globe and official documents filed with the SEC and the State of Massachusetts demonstrate is just not true. The fact is that Romney, despite his big Bain lie, served as president and CEO of his corporate buyout firm until three years later and is responsible for the American jobs that were shipped overseas during that period. Romney owes it to voters to shed light on his departure from Bain and financial arrangements by following the precedent set by his own father and releasing additional tax returns. Only once he’s straight with them on these issues can the American people make their own judgments about Romney’s record and motivations.”

Good morning.

The big news statewide today will be the Louis Freeh report on the Penn State/Sandusky scandal, available here or on the P-G homepage. Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan is covering the report and Freeh's 10 a.m. presser in Philadelphia.

In politics, Tracie Mauriello has the story on the latest House GOP health bill repeal. The issue is certain to be a big deal in the Critz/Rothfus congressional race, so here's the statement from Critz (who joined all but 5 Dems in voting nay):

“Americans’ top priority remains job creation.  Instead of working to fix our economy and to create jobs, House Republicans are wasting time on legislation that will not pass the Senate or be signed into law.

“I opposed the healthcare bill when it passed and I voted to get rid of the individual mandate and the tax on medical devices.  I oppose on the Independent Payment Advisory Board – an unelected board of bureaucrats that could cut Medicare benefits.  But, as I’ve said before, it would be wrong and irresponsible for Congress to go backwards and allow insurance companies to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, to kick young adults off their parents’ health insurance plans, or to re-open the ‘doughnut hole’ which will force seniors to pay more for medicine.

“Let’s stop the political games and start working together to fix this law and pass legislation that will create jobs.”

The P-G is suing in federal court to take photos inside polling places this election day, due to voter ID worries. From Rich Lord:

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, authored by attorney Frederick N. Frank, said that in 2008, the newspaper sued in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, resulting in a court order allowing photography around, but not inside, polling places.

This year, in light of the implementation for the first time of voter identification laws, the Post-Gazette asked the county for permission to photograph and video tape "on a limited basis" at polls. The newspaper wants to gather images of people signing in and showing identification, but not of people actually casting votes.


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