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Thornburgh Runs New Ad; Dispute Emerges Over Wofford Vote

September 18, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican Dick Thornburgh began running a new television commercial Wednesday featuring an endorsement from a elderly Pennsylvanian, creating disbelief in his opponent’s camp.

Also Wednesday, Thornburgh asserted that his opponent in the Nov. 5 Senate election, Sen. Harris Wofford, D-Pa., had cost the state $16 million in highway funds by voting against a Senate amendment. The Wofford camp said Thornburgh skewed the facts.

The 30-second ad, which appear statewide Thursday, centers on comments by 83-year-old Mildred Tapparo. In the ad, the white-haired woman appears in her kitchen in Hershey, where she praises Thornburgh’s work for the elderly during his two terms as governor.

″Thank goodness for Dick Thornburgh,″ she says. ″When he was governor he made Pennsylvania the No. 1 state in the nation in helping seniors. A lot of us get help paying for our medicine. ... And Dick Thornburgh made it possible for many seniors to keep living at home if they choose.″

A campaign spokesman said the ad would run for at least several days. Thornburgh’s earlier ads focused on jobs and the disabled. Wofford’s ads have focused on his opposition to a U.S.-Mexico trade agreement and the need for national health insurance.

Wofford’s campaign manager, Paul Begala, described the commercial as a deceptive depiction of Thornburgh’s tenure in Harrisburg. Begala said Thornburgh had opposed establishment of a state-paid prescription program for the elderly but it passed the Legislature despite his objections.

The program, formally known as the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly, subsidizes prescriptions for seniors using profits from the state lottery.

Begala called the ad ″proof positive that Dick Thornburgh has a career ahead of him as a fiction writer, not a senator.″

″He’s just another Washington politician who says he’s a friend of the elderly when he running for office, and then becomes their No. 1 enemy when he gets into office,″ he said.

Meanwhile, Thornburgh said Wofford ″has $16 million worth of explaining to do″ because of the Senate vote. The disputed vote came on an amendment to a Transportation Department spending bill. The amendment would have created a new funding formula that would have given the state $16 million in new money for special highway projects.

Begala said Wofford voted against the amendment because it would have jeopardized a similar House bill that contained more than $40 million for the state.

″Only Dick Thornburgh would think it’s a good deal to trade away a $43 million highway allocation for Pennsylvania in exchange for a $16 million allocation,″ Begala said.

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