Pennsylvania Democrats Strangely Busy During Obama’s Visit

To some of us, this isn’t that peculiar:

Congressmen Jason Altmire and Tim Murphy have previous engagements. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and Rep. Mike Doyle are out of town on anniversary trips with their wives. Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato will be campaigning in Philadelphia.

When President Obama and Sen. Arlen Specter land at Pittsburgh International Airport today, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will receive them by himself.

The rest of the region’s top elected officials declined White House invitations to attend Obama’s speech at Carnegie Mellon University this afternoon, their offices said.

The White House billed Obama’s speech as a follow-up to his economic address at Georgetown University on April 14, 2009, less than two months after he signed the $787 billion stimulus bill. In it, he spoke of laying “a new foundation for growth and prosperity — a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest.”

Obama’s last trip to Pittsburgh was Sept. 24 and 25, when the city hosted the Group of 20 economic summit. He was in town 10 days before that to deliver the keynote address at the AFL-CIO convention. During both of those trips, elected officials didn’t greet him at the airport — as Ravenstahl will — but met up with him later, snagging a slice of the ever-present media spotlight on the country’s chief executive.

“It’s peculiar, to say the least,” Gerald Shuster, professor of political communication at the University of Pittsburgh, said about elected officials declining such invitations.

If you take a look at Obama’s job approval and disapproval in Pennsylvania, it’s not that surprising:

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