Congressman Jack Murtha, the incumbant from Western Pennsylvania has said, “There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.” His opposition has featured a war veteran who called him a “fat little bastard.” It doesn’t get much uglier than this…
U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D- Pa., left, addresses supporters with Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa., right, during a campaign rally outside a steel workers union hall in Latrobe, Pa. Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Rep. John Murtha, scrambling to keep his seat after recently saying his western Pennsylvania home base “is a racist area,” told supporters Saturday he should have started campaigning sooner.
“I was blindsided this time. It was my own fault. I take full responsibility and I’m worried that I waited too long to get people activated,” Murtha, 76, a 17-term member told about 100 campaign volunteers at his campaign headquarters.
In addition to the Johnstown stop, Murtha toured a steel mill and held a smaller rally with steelworkers in Latrobe. He emphasized the jobs and billions of dollars he’s brought home.
“They kick the hell out of me all the time because I’m for earmarks, because I’m for taking care of the people I represent,” said Murtha, who chairs the House defense appropriations subcommittee.
At Murtha’s side at the Saturday stops was Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who said Murtha was a close ally to his father, the late Gov. Robert P. Casey. On Monday, former President Clinton was scheduled to campaign for Murtha in Johnstown, and for another longtime House Democrat, Paul Kanjorski, in Wilkes-Barre.
Murtha’s being challenged by Republican William Russell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who moved to Johnstown to run against him. Russell has said the earmarks have created an unhealthy dependence on federal money.
The district has heavy Democratic registration, and Murtha has a long history of handily winning his races by double-digit margins.
Murtha recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.” He later apologized….
Murtha Called “Fat Little Bastard” By Iraq War Vet
By Alex Roarty, PolitickerPA.com Reporter
NEW STANTON — Republican congressional candidate Bill Russell’s rally on Sunday featured several Iraq war veterans vehemently criticizing U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Johnstown), who they say betrayed them when he said troops in Iraq killed innocent civilians in Haditha “in cold blood.”
Those remarks sparked Russell to run against Murtha and have been a theme of his campaign ever since.
During the rally, Shawn Bryan, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps., said Murtha visited his unit in Iraq in 2005. At the time, Murtha told the soldiers “what a great job we did,” Bryan said, only to see him tell his district back home he no longer supported the effort.
Bryan said he didn’t put his life on the line for his country “just so some fat little bastard can come back and run his mouth.”
It was the second time during his speech that Bryan, who flew in from Albuquerque, New Mexico, had called Murtha a “fat little bastard” during his speech. His remarks were not publicly repudiated at the rally.
In an interview after the rally, Russell told PolitickerPA.com Bryan’s comments didn’t reflect his own feelings, but he did the defend the fellow veteran.
The remarks are reflective of the anger many marines, who have lost dozens of fellow soldiers during combat, feel toward Murtha, he said.
“Am I going to throw him under the bus for it?” Russell asked. “No. I understand — he’s going to say what he believes.”
Murtha, who himself served 37 years in the Marine Corps and won a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, said about the 2005 shootings of Iraq civilians in Haditha: “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”
Charges have been dropped against…