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Rashomon on PA campaign trail

Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) gets heckled, showing strength or weakness, depending on the spin one prefers.

So, a heckler interrupts a Gov. Corbett press conference in the Lehigh Valley Thursday with an attack on his proposal to cut pension benefits for future state and school employees - disguised as a question.

Corbett gives an answer and then, as the man continues to berate him, thanks the audience for coming and ends the event.

Does this incident illustrate a) Corbett's cowardice and unpopularity or b) the governor's leadership?

A tracker from the Campaign for a Fresh Start, the super PAC backing Democrat Tom Wolf, filmed the exchange and the campaign circulated it widely, saying it showed that Corbett can't defend earlier cuts to state education spending and his resistance to taxing Marcellus sale gas exploration.

"Tom Corbett cannot defend his billion dollar cuts to education or his failure to enact a reasonable severance tax that will help fund our schools. His actions have caused property tax increases throughout Pennsylvania," said Mike Mikus, a spokesman for Fresh Start. And Corbett has "admitted [the pension plan] will do nothing to lower property taxes for Pennsylvanians and produce no immediate savings."

Corbett's campaign responds that Corbett at least answered the man's questions, while Wolf speaks in generalities at his campaign events. The campaign has been highlighting incidents when Wolf, in a time-honored front-runner's approach, declines to give many policy specifics on the trail.

"As the media knows all too well, Secretary Tom Wolf continues to dodge answering any questions that are asked of him," said Chris Pack, communications director for the Corbett campaign.  "We hope that Secretary Tom Wolf studies False Start PA's video that shows a textbook manner in which to respond to a question – by simply answering it."

(p.s. Note the snarky alternate name for Wolf's PAC.)