Barletta spokesman Shawn Kelly said that “President Clinton asked people to give Kanjorski two more years, but he’s really asking us to give Kanjorski a 28th year.”
“Kanjorski doesn’t deserve his 27th and 28th year in Congress,” Kelly said.
In 2008, Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, was one of the few Republicans to make a hard run at a Democratic incumbent, losing to Kanjorski by a mere four points in an election where most Democrats coasted to victory. Barletta has been ahead in most polls this cycle, but a recent poll showed his lead had been whittled down to two points. Further, the district is roughly two to one Democrat.
Clinton’s visit is the first of two to Pennsylvania during the last week of the election. He will hit several locations around the state Thursday for congressional candidates and also for Senate candidate Joe Sestak, who is locked in a tight race with Republican Pat Toomey.
Kanjorski who has criticized Barletta for the unemployment rate in Hazleton, called him a “failed mayor.” He touted his own ability to obtain funding for projects in the district.
“When we need something I can pick up the phone and reach someone right in the Oval Office,” the Democrat said.
During an interview in his downtown Hazleton headquarters, Barletta said he “felt good” about Clinton’s visit.
“He wouldn’t be coming here if this wasn’t a race they were concerned about losing,” Barletta said.
Barletta, who said he would limit himself to five terms if elected, blamed the high unemployment rate on Congress and the Obama administration.
“What has more effect on unemployment, a mayor of a city or Washington and its policies?” he said. “The district has the highest unemployment rate in the state, his district.”
One man interrupted Clinton at several points early in his speech, yelling for the abolishment of the Federal Reserve. The man was told to leave by others in the crowd, and was seen leaving the building videotaping himself as he talked about being kicked in the shins.