Democracy Has Prevailed.

May 22, 2006

Rick Santorum's Attack Ad

I just heard Lil Ricky's attack-back ad on John McIntire's radio program. (And I should note that The Hotline beat me to this by an hour. Damn!)

You can hear the ad here. As of Monday evening, the transcript isn't up at the Santorum website, so I did one myself. Here it is:
Primary Election night in front of cheering supporters in Pittsburgh, Rick Santorum challenged Bobby Casey to 10 debates and Casey responded with a loud, no - saying voters didn’t care about issues and that campaigns are a contact sport.

Now we know what Casey meant. According to a KDKA investigative report, a Casey operative admitted to trespassing at the Santorum’s home in Penn Hills. Peering into the windows looking for campaign dirt. But we shouldn’t be surprised. Casey has a long history of slinging mud.

The Philadelphia Daily News has called Casey’s tactics, “slash and trash and little else.” The chairman of the Democratic Party said Casey took negative campaigning to a new height. And one Philadelphia paper called Casey’s campaign, “dishonest and nasty.”

Apparently, that’s what we can expect from Bobby Casey. Again. I’m Rick Santorum, candidate for the US Senate and I approved this message Paid for and authorized by Santorum 2006.
Let's get all the material first. Here's Ricky's page on this. It includes a copy of the e-mail they've been sending out. It also links to this KDKA page.

The e-mail makes a number of allegations.
On KDKA TV on May 18, there was an investigative report that revealed the shocking news of a Casey campaign operative peeking into the windows of the Santorum family home.
The television segment features Ed Vecchio, who is married to Erin Vecchio, chairwoman of the Penn Hills Democratic Committee, and closely connected with Bobby Casey Jr.'s campaign.
The Vecchios acknowledge to peering in the windows of the Santorum's home.
Now let's take a look at the text of the KDKA report.

Remember the ad says that "a Casey operative admitted to trespassing" at the home in Penn Hills and the e-mail says an operative was "peeking into the windows" of the home. And that the Vecchios "acknowledge peering into the windows." Seems pretty cut and dry, right?

Not when you look at the source material.

This is how investigative reporter Ralph Ianotti quotes Ed Vecchio, husband to Erin Vecchio, head of the Penn Hills Democratic Party.
“He doesn't live here,” said Ed Vecchio of Penn Hills. “The house he's registered to vote out of, is vacant -- no curtains, furniture, nothing in there. It's abandoned for over a month. So, I feel it's my right to contest his vote.”
That's it. The "admitted" part comes from the end of the piece:
As for the Santorums, they think someone would have had to go onto their property to know what is, or isn't inside. [emphasis added]
Then there's this from the piece:
Right now, Penn Hills Police don't know who, if anybody, trespassed on Santorum's property.
Yet Ricky's ad says that a Casey operative "admitted" to tresspassing. Trespassing is a very serious charge. If someone did admit to this, then why hasn't there been an arrest?

Who do you think is lying here? Ricky's campaign or the Penn Hills Police?

The next day, KDKA broadcast this:
A day after KDKA disclosed police were stepping up patrols in Santorum's neighborhood, a strategist for Santorum charged Democrats were stalking the senator's home.
But, again the police said they don't know who, if anyone, trespassed on the property. Yet someone in Ricky's camp says that Democrats are "stalking" the home.

Who's lying here?

Then there's this from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Saying his family's safety had been threatened, Santorum lashed out at Casey in interviews across the state yesterday. Santorum accused the Vecchios of being Casey operatives who trespassed on his property and looked into his windows, and the Casey campaign of "writing press releases in support of that kind of activity."

"Intimidating and scaring my family - and they feel threatened, let me assure you - that is thuggery," Santorum said before a Senate field hearing at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Earlier in the day in a phone interview on WILK-AM's Sue Henry Show in Scranton, Santorum went on the attack while responding to a question about debates. "Now that he is a nominee, it is time for him to start acting like a candidate instead of a thug," Santorum said of Casey.

Casey, in a statement, called the charges "false and malicious." His campaign, in a news release, described Santorum's actions as "weirdness."

"We have nothing to do with it," said Larry Smar, Casey's spokesman. "We are not going to look in Sen. Santorum's windows, and we hope he doesn't look into ours... . He is trying to drag Bob Casey into a long-running feud."
But The Inquirer is also reporting:
Erin Vecchio said she and her husband repeated what they had heard from a staff writer of the Penn Hills Progress, which reported Wednesday that the Santorum house "appeared to be unoccupied." The Casey campaign highlighted the story in a Thursday news release.

"This is not coming from Bob Casey," said Vecchio, denying coordination. "This is coming from the taxpayers of Penn Hills." [emphasis added]
By the way, here's the article from the Penn Hills Progress. From it we learn a few interesting things from Virginia Davis, press secretary to Senator Man-on-Dog:
Davis said the Santorums split their time between their homes in Penn Hills and the Washington, D.C., area. The senator's family must have a home near Washington so Santorum can be present when the Senate is in session, according to the press secretary.

Davis denied that Santorum's niece, Alyssa DeLuca, and her husband, Bart, had lived in the Stephens Lane home.

The press secretary said the couple was only looking after the house and no longer does so.

The Stephens Lane home lately has appeared to be unoccupied.
And KDKA reported that:
They (the Santorums) admit they spend most of their time at their home in Leesburg, Virginia.
So now here's the kicker. KDKA quotes Erin Vecchio as saying:
“If you want me to take a lie detector test to say I was never on that property. Go for it. I'll, myself and my husband, will take a lie detector test. Because, will you take a lie detector test, Rick -- to say you ever lived in that house?”
Huh. Now didn't the Santorum campaign say that the Vecchios "admitted to peering into the windows"? Now Erin Vecchio says that she's never been to Ricky's house - and she's willing to take a lie detector to prove it.

KDKA adds this:
Bob Casey Jr. issued a statement saying in part "Santorum is making false and malicious charges involving a long running dispute in Penn Hills about his residency."

Casey goes on to say "The people questioning Santorum's residency aren't Casey campaign operatives.... why doesn't Santorum just fess up and say he lives in Virginia?"
So let me sum it all up: The Santorum camp says that Ed Vecchio, a Casey operative, by declaring that he saw no furniture in the house must've been on the property in order to look through the window.

Yet none of that is true. The Vecchios, you'll remember, say they got that information from the Penn Hills Progress - who in fact reported that the house "appeared to be unoccupied" two days before the KDKA report.

Every charge against the Casey Campaign and the Vecchios is a lie - and they know it.

Rick Santorum, the smear-meister has finally arrived.

UPDATE: Here's the Casey Campaign's response to Lil Ricky's ad.


Shawn said...

Smear attacks? From Rick Santorum?!? Say it ain't so!

Still, if Bobby Jr. sits on his hands he's screwed. This state has NO respect for someone who lets himself get slapped around like that. Time to give as good as lil' Ricky gets, Bob!

Justin said...

I knew this whole thing smelled funny. Just didn't know why. Thanks for bringing it out!

PtBreeze said...

If Santorum actually lives in that house, he ought to cut the grass. That place looks like a jungle.

Maria said...

Santorum's campaign spokesperson will be on McIntire (KDKA) tonight talking about this will our own David (around 8:15 PM)