JOHNSTOWN - Democratic congressional candidate Mark Critz showed Sunday he knows how to bring out a big weapon when he needs one.
In turn, the big weapon credited him with being a "how-to" guy.
Trying to break clear in what promises to be a close election in the 12th District, Critz imported former President Bill Clinton to the Pasquerilla Conference Center for a rally Sunday.
(Mirror photo by William Kibler)
Former President Bill Clinton attends a rally for 12th Congressional District candidate Mark Critz (right) Sunday at the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center in Johnstown.
Clinton told about 400 Critz supporters, many in union T-shirts, that all politicians must say what they'll do and how much they'll spend, but don't always get around to answering the question: How will you go about it?
As a longtime staffer who "had to figure out the how question" for the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha - whose seat he's seeking in a special election - Critz has the political savvy to serve his boss' former constituents, Clinton told the crowd.
"It's always about the work," Critz said, echoing his late boss. "It's about jobs; it's about economic development."
He'd like to promote it by eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, he said.
He poked fun at opponent Tim Burns for trying to win campaign points by linking Critz's politics to those of the current House speaker: "Maybe he should move to California, if he wants to run against Nancy Pelosi," he said.
"I'm going to work with anyone and everyone who will move us forward," he said.
The election is less about Washington, D.C., than about Johnstown and Washington, Pa., anyway, he said.
"A lot of people are saying stop the world, I want to get off," said Clinton, apparently referring to alleged Republican negativity about Washington. "You can't."
Clinton "hit on a lot of things that needed hit on," said Jody Perkey of Johnstown, who attended with fiance Jon Leis.
He has credibility as a president who turned a deficit into a surplus, Leis said.
Leis likes Critz's proposal for tax breaks for small businesses, like his own tattoo shop. "Right now, we [small businesses] are hurting," Leis said.
Critz won't need training, because he already knows how Washington works, said Howard Price of Windber, a former Murtha campaign worker.
There are reportedly projects "in the pipeline" from Murtha's time that Critz could help bring through, Price said.
Burns spokesman Kent Gates poked fun at Clinton's calling Critz the "how-to guy" on economic development.
He never created a job, in contrast to Burns, whom Gates credited for creating 400.
Further, Critz worked for a congressman whose district's unemployment increased massively during his tenure as "jobs guy" for the district, Gates said.
It's easy to "preach to the saved," like he did Sunday, Clinton said.
But it's more important to preach to those who aren't, he said.
He urged the Critz supporters to talk up their candidate before Tuesday's primary.
Critz recalled that when Murtha first won election, he made it by a slim margin. "We have to get every single vote," he told the crowd.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.