HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The swipes between Gov. Tom Corbett and state Treasurer Rob McCord are getting nastier.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania's Republican Party and Corbett's campaign fired back at McCord, a Democratic candidate for governor, after he called Corbett's alternative to a Medicaid expansion "boneheaded from beginning to end" and suggested that Corbett doesn't understand the state's public pension system.
The party said McCord has used "bully tactics" and is "desperate for attention," while Corbett's campaign called McCord's actions "classless."
Corbett's campaign has not hesitated to take on Democrats who are in the five-way race for the party nomination to challenge the Republican governor in the fall general election. Last week, for instance, Corbett's campaign kiddingly raised the idea of a tax on cabinet makers to lampoon the case for higher taxes on natural gas production being made by Democratic candidate Tom Wolf, whose business distributes kitchen cabinets.
But the back-and-forth between Corbett and McCord is increasingly strident and bordering on the personal. It comes at a time McCord has just aired his first two TV commercials, including a 60-second ad that rips Corbett as behaving like a "wholly owned subsidiary" of the natural gas drilling industry and says Corbett "has no sense of what's going on in working families."
McCord, unlike his Democratic competitors, has had three years in Harrisburg to joust with Corbett over policy, and has had a presence in some of Corbett's biggest policy battles, including pensions and management of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
The volley came after McCord's comments at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon on Monday in Harrisburg.
"Once again, Rob McCord proves that he will resort to anything just to gain some attention," the GOP said. It then said McCord's "overall frenzied behavior proves he is just not ready for prime time. It's sad that Rob McCord feels that his only option of gaining media attention is not though ideas, but bully tactics."
Corbett's campaign said McCord does not have the temperament to be governor.
"His classless display ... reeks of a desperate candidate seeking some attention as he (has) fallen well behind his primary opponents," the campaign said.
Asked after he spoke if he thinks Corbett is intellectually up to the job of governor, McCord said he hadn't tried to be personally insulting.
"I need to be careful of that," McCord told reporters. "First of all, I adore Susan Corbett, and I think being personally insulting is just misguided. I'm a very garrulous, competitive person and I would never want to be personally insulting."
However, he then went on to slam Corbett again.
"I think the experience Gov. Corbett brought to this office just did not equip him well to be a good governor," McCord said. "And I know the difference between people who are fully intellectually engaged in their work and enjoy their work and enjoy hearing competing points of view and people who are trying to just walk a line that's dictated by talking points."
The primary election is May 20.
Wolf led the most recent round of independent polling, thanks to campaign TV ads he largely self-funded and began airing in late January. Also running are former Clinton White House adviser Katie McGinty, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and former state Auditor General Jack Wagner.