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Casey Cites Recent Re-election In Decision Not To Run For President

January 19, 2019

DUNMORE — Re-elected to the U.S. Senate for a third term only two months ago, Sen. Bob Casey said Friday he just didn’t feel right running for president so soon afterward.

So he won’t run in 2020, he said.

“I have the blessing of a third term in the Senate and there’s a lot we’ve got to do, even if we weren’t in a shutdown,” the Scranton Democrat told reporters after a news conference with unionized federal prison workers to highlight the federal shutdown’s effects. “I’m looking forward to doing that work.”

In other states, senators interested in running for president ran for re-election last year with voters knowing they might run for president. That wasn’t true of him, he said.

“This (a possible presidential run) was rather new for people who’d been voting in November,” he said. “They weren’t necessarily factoring this into their decision and that weighed on me.”

In the statement announcing his decision, Casey, 58, said he considered running because Pennsylvania will play a key role in the 2020 presidential race, because President Donald Trump and Republicans’ policies are hurting the middle class and because the president’s “dangerous fascination with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and despots around the world” has shaken the nation’s security.

He decided working to alter the president’s policies from the Senate is a better idea.

“I thought I should give it some consideration,” he told reporters. “I never reached the stage of giving it the kind of second or third level of consideration, which is more of a serious, more probing look at how you win, how you put together a campaign apparatus. Because the initial consideration is not only what’s best for you and what you want to do at this point in your time as a public official, but what your constituents want.”

He said family members had mixed feelings about a presidential run.

“It never even reached the stage of a long ‘should I do this or should I not?’ (talk with the family) because I think they knew that I was at a very preliminary stage myself,” Casey said. “Our family’s been through a lot of tough elections and taking one off the table, especially one this big, is probably a good thing for a family. It’s difficult to run a campaign when you’re in office. It’s exponentially more difficult to run a presidential campaign. And I don’t think I would do either job well, the candidate work as well as the Senate work, with having to do both at the same time.”

He did not rule out serving as someone’s vice presidential running mate, but said he had given that no thought.

“I guess I don’t even want to speculate about that because it’s probably unlikely to ever happen,” Casey said. “And that’s for someone else’s decision down the road.”

Casey’s decision did not surprise political analyst G. Terry Madonna. Madonna pointed out 20 to 30 Democrats have already talked about running or taken more steps toward running than Casey.

Casey as a running mate might make sense because of his political strength with blue-collar voters, but his pro-life stance on abortion in a party leaning more leftward might preclude the party’s presidential nominee from choosing him, Madonna said.

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bkrawczeniuk@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9147

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