Just as this train crosses the diverse landscape of Pennsylvania -- urban blight, suburban sprawl, flat farmland, rolling hills, rivers and mountains -- perhaps the passengers on board also reflect the state's diverse political geography. In discussions with two dozen Pennsylvania residents from across the state, who only have in common that they are traveling by train on the election's eve, a majority of voters echoed the sentiments of Carol Swygaut, a middle school teacher from Huntington. "Somebody has to get us out of the mess we're in," Swygaut said. "I live in a depressed area. There are a lot of people with no jobs. I think Thornburgh did a good job as governor, but times have changed and I think he's going to feel the resentment that people have toward President Bush -- he's going to get the boot first." "I think people are fed up," Swygaut continued. "It's time that Bush did things to solve our problems at home for a change." As a school teacher whose eldest daughter just graduated from the University's Medical School and who has another child in college, Swygaut said that she is "ticked off that there is no tax break for the middle-income parent trying to pay their kid's way through school." She added that she thinks Wofford would probably be "better on education issues" because he was once president of Bryn Mawr College. When Governor Robert Casey appointed Wofford to fill the Senate seat left vacant after John Heinz died in a plane crash this spring, it appeared that Wofford would barely have time to hire a few aides and redecorate Heinz's old office before being whupped by Thornburgh, the Republican candidate, in the special election. But for someone known as "Harris Who?" just a few months ago, the Democratic candidate seems to have made a name for himself by voicing concerns many Pennsylvanians have about the direction the nation is traveling. Wofford has called for nationalized health care, tax breaks for the middle class and increased funding to underwrite higher education loans. One solidly Republican voter on the train said he was upset that Thornburgh has allowed Wofford to shape the campaign and that Thornburgh chose to respond with ads attacking Wofford instead of shifting the campaign to his own set of issues. "I'm a Republican who believed in Heinz as the right man for the job," said Peter Herman, who owns a software company in Altoona. "I'm having a hard time seeing that Thornburgh is identifying the issues. To date, all the issues he's identified have been reactionary to Wofford." "Being a Republican, I don't side with Wofford's issues. It's just that Thornburgh hasn't given me enough to go on. I think it is because of the negative media campaign that I am forced to back out of the election process," Herman said. Many national commentators looking at the Wofford-Thornburgh race have said Wofford's call for nationalized health insurance is what has won him the most points among voters in Pennsylvania. But opinion was divided on that issue among the travelers interviewed this evening. "I think Wofford has some good ideas, but sometimes good ideas can cost the taxpayer a good deal," said Assistant Conductor W. M. Bailey, a Harrisburg resident. "I'm for Dick Thornburgh." Swygaut said she also is "not happy" with Wofford's national health insurance initiative, but said that "something has to be done" about the rising cost of health care. Becky Byerly, a counselor for alcoholics in Pittsburgh, said she is very interested in Wofford's plan because she has "seen a lot of people that can't afford private health insurance and who are not getting medical care." Byerly said she is also going to vote for Wofford because she approves of his "no" vote on the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.Comments powered by Disqus
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