A paper target with Gov. Corbett's face in the bull's-eye showed up at a Democrats' county-fair booth in southwestern Pennsylvania over the weekend, drawing outrage from state Republicans and condemnation of the imagery from Democratic officials.
"Reasonable people can disagree, but creating something like this is just unacceptable," state GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said Tuesday in a statement. He said that his Democratic counterpart, Jim Burn, should denounce the flier, and added that Greene County Democrats owed the governor an apology for "condoning" it.
"Think Safety First" is printed beneath the target, between a sketch of a deer and a picture of a turkey with the slogan "Let's Make Him One-Term Tom" pasted next to it. A tom is both a male turkey and the governor's first name.
"The Greene County Democrats had nothing to do with it," the county party chairman, Greg Leathers, said Tuesday. He called the bull's-eye image "disturbing" and disputed the GOP's contention and some news reports that said the party had distributed additional copies of the unsigned flier.
"There was no 'publication,' " said Leathers, who is director of the county emergency-management agency. "No one passed them out. Someone laid a picture of the governor on there and snapped a picture of it."
He said that the Greene County Treasurer's Office has given out paper targets (with regular bull's-eyes) for 12 years as a memento for hunters, and that the maker of the anonymous flier evidently superimposed Corbett's picture on one.
To some, the Greene County material conjured up memories of the Facebook page of Sarah Palin's political action committee, which displayed target crosshairs over the congressional districts of 20 House Democrats that the former Alaska governor had marked for defeat in the 2010 midterm elections. One of the districts on Palin's list was that of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in January 2011.
Volunteers with the Greene County GOP, which also had a presence at the fair, saw the flier, photographed it, and sent it to the state committee Saturday, committee spokeswoman Valerie Caras said.
"It's unclear how many there were, but we believe there could have been more than just one copy," she said.
State Republicans sent out a news release Tuesday. As soon as reporters began asking about the image, the Democratic State Committee distanced itself from it.
"This is completely unacceptable, and things like this have no place whatsoever in our political discourse," state party spokesman Marc Eisenstein said. "Those responsible for this should be ashamed of themselves."
Gleason also used the occasion to jab the Obama administration, which is weighing carbon-emissions standards opposed by the coal industry in Greene County and other parts of southwestern Pennsylvania.
"Let's not forget that it is President Obama and Democrats who have declared war on Greene County's coal industry and heritage," he said. "Gov. Corbett has stood up for Greene County and Pennsylvania with pro-energy policies that have added to the 130,000 private-sector jobs created across the Commonwealth."