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Santorum, Casey trade shots in speeches

In a foretaste of battles to come, U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and state Treasurer Bob Casey traded shots in speeches before the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

"I won't be vague with you today," Casey told more than a thousand businessmen and women at the chamber's annual meeting at the convention center. "The leadership in Washington has actually hurt Pennsylvania business... Year after year Congress and this administration have driven up the deficit with irresponsible tax cuts."

Santorum followed with an energetic speech claiming credit for Philadelphia development projects and criticizing Casey on policy issues, like medical liability reform, importing prescription drugs and taxes.

The Bush tax cuts, he said, "have been the principal spark in the economy the last five years... [Casey] wants to take money from the small businessman."

In this early face-off, the difference in style was apparent.

Casey, known for a friendly subdued demeanor that wins friends in conversation and small rooms, read his speech with a well-crafted but deliberate tone.

Santorum spoke without notes, making his points with energy and passion.

Although Casey led Santorum by 18 points in the latest Daily News/CN8 Keystone Poll, Republican House Speaker John Perzel said the event showed his candidate has the chops to make up ground.

"With all the preparation that Bob Casey put into that speech, it was still typical Bob Casey. It was very bland," Perzel said. "You'll see Santorum is a better debater, you'll see him wage a very tough campaign."

Casey said he'll leave the polling and punditry to others, while he runs on a program of creating jobs and bringing health care to Pennsylvanians.

By Dave Davies, Philadelphia Daily News, Oct 15, 2005

Correction:  A story in Saturday's paper misstated the margin between State Treasurer Bob Casey and Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum in the latest Keystone Poll. That poll, released Sept. 16, showed Casey with a 13-point lead over Santorum. Oct 18, 2005

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