Pa. Senate Hopefuls Exchange Barbs
Thursday, October 26, 2006; 7:49 PM
CORNWALL, Pa. -- Sen. Rick Santorum, who has been trailing his campaign opponent for months, accused Democrat Bob Casey on Thursday of being unqualified for the Senate "at a very critical time in our nation's future."
In the first of a two-day series of speeches on national security, Santorum said Casey fails to recognize the growing number of worldwide threats.
"From everything I see, my opponent, Mr. Casey, is unready, unqualified for the office that he seeks at a very critical time in our nation's future," Santorum said in a speech at PRL Industries, a metal-castings supplier that counts the military among its customers.
In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Casey called Santorum's charge a "ridiculous assertion," citing his current job as state treasurer and eight years as auditor general.
"I've been a statewide public official in Pennsylvania for a decade," Casey said.
Santorum's criticism comes after the campaign released a hard-hitting TV ad earlier this week showing Casey's face next to a mushroom cloud and accusing him of supporting policies that hurt national security.
Santorum said the U.S. must pay attention to escalating security threats from countries such as Iran, Venezuela and North Korea.
"We will have to face this threat because our enemies are fully committed to our destruction," Santorum said. "They will not stop until they destroy us or we destroy them."
Casey agreed that the U.S. must fight its enemies aggressively.
"We can't have a defensive war," he told the AP. "We've got to hunt terrorists down."
Santorum, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, argued Thursday for the United States to maintain its commitment to fighting terrorism overseas and at home, and to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.
He referred to what he said were multiple forces trying to undermine the U.S. as "the gathering storm," the title of Winston Churchill's memoir about the causes of World War II.