Pennsylvania GOP senator maintains mystery over Trump vote

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) " Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is staying mum on how he'll vote on the presidential ballot, despite being pressed repeatedly during a 10-minute television appearance Thursday as he seeks re-election in a neck-and-neck race with Democrat Katie McGinty in moderate Pennsylvania.

Toomey rebuffed the persistent questioning on Philadelphia TV station WTXF about whether he'll vote for Republican Donald Trump, at one point saying he "probably" will reveal how he will vote Tuesday and at other points noting that there are other undecided voters out there.

"I don't think they've opened the polls yet, I don't think so," Toomey told his interviewers. "So I've got a little bit of time."

Told that he might sway undecided voters by revealing who he'll vote for, Toomey responded, "Well, I hope they're going to vote for me in the Senate race."

Pressed again, Toomey said, "I'll give you credit for serious persistence" and contended that the voters he meets daily are more interested in security or economic issues than who will get his presidential vote.

"I get asked by reporters much more often than by voters. ... I don't think they care nearly as much as you guys do," Toomey said.

The conservative Toomey is one of the Senate's most endangered incumbents, and creating space between himself and Trump could be crucial to winning moderates and independents from which he'll likely need strong support in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 4-to-3.

The race could help determine whether the GOP keeps its Senate majority.

Toomey is a strident critic of Hillary Clinton and maintains that he will not vote for the Democratic presidential nominee. But Toomey has not campaigned with Trump in the presidential battleground state, and he has neither endorsed nor disavowed Trump.

Polls show Clinton ahead of Trump by single-digit percentage points in a state that has not backed a Republican for president since 1988.

McGinty has sought to make Toomey's middle-of-the-road stance on Trump a high-profile campaign issue. McGinty, who served in Bill Clinton's White House and was recruited to run by national Democrats, has endorsed Clinton and campaigned with her across Pennsylvania.

Toomey has sought to use McGinty's closeness to Clinton to his advantage, highlighting his criticism of Trump " including Trump's vulgarity and plan on illegal immigration " as proof he would be independent of the president, regardless who wins that race.

In a demonstration of the tightrope Toomey is walking, he launched a TV ad last week in moderate southeastern Pennsylvania that recounts praise from Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, while at the same time his campaign aired an ad attacking Clinton in other parts of the state.

Republican Senate candidate Joe Heck of Nevada also refuses to say whether he'll vote for Trump. He's in a highly competitive race to replace retiring Democratic leader Harry Reid.

Toomey also risks alienating Republican voters who delivered a 37 percentage-point victory for Trump in Pennsylvania's April 26 primary.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 12 Dec 2016 02:28:51 Processing Time: 895ms