The latest controversy enveloping Donald Trump won’t keep him away from one of Pennsylvania’s biggest political events of the year, or prevent campaign dollars from benefiting Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
Trump is still scheduled to speak during a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Club luncheon Friday as part of the Pennsylvania Society in New York City, according to a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania GOP. Tickets for the luncheon range from $1,000 to $10,000, and Toomey is reportedly set to benefit. According to an article last week from the AP, the PA GOP plans to spend funds raised from the Trump luncheon on Toomey and other candidates running in 2016.
“This falls full square on the shoulders of Pat Toomey,” said Katie McGinty, a 2016 Democratic senate candidate, referring to Toomey’s status as the state’s prominent Republican legislator. …”Pat Toomey right now fully owns this invitation and fully owns the hateful speech of the lead attraction at this fundraiser for his campaign.”
On Monday, Trump — still the poll-leading Republican presidential candidate — announced that he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. An appearance he had planned for an RNC fundraiser Wednesday in New York City was promptly canceled. Since then, the Daily News made headlines with a cover that likened Trump to Hitler, Mayor Michael Nutter has said he would like to ban Trump from Philadelphia (and called him an asshole) and many Republicans have turned their backs on him.
Toomey tweeted this on Tuesday:
But Toomey had previously called for a restriction to immigrants based on their nationality. In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, he said America should suspend the admission of Syrian refugees pending an examination of vetting protocols.
A spokesperson for Toomey, Steve Kelly, told Billy Penn that Toomey would not be attending Friday’s luncheon because of a prior commitment and that the Pennsylvania GOP was raising the funds from the Trump luncheon. Asked to clarify whether the raised funds would be spent on Toomey and other candidates, as had been previously reported, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania GOP did not respond to the question.
Toomey was not made available for comment, but Kelly referred to the Tweet about Trump from Tuesday.
In the opinion of Democratic challengers McGinty, John Fetterman and Joe Sestak, that tweeted condemnation rings hollow.
“Toomey is profiteering on racism and un-American rhetoric on the part of Donald Trump,” McGinty said. “And that is true unless and until this event is canceled.”
Added Sestak, in a statement: “Both Trump and Toomey have inexcusably said Muslims should be treated differently than Christians. They have similar views so I would expect Toomey would gladly accept funding support from someone he agrees with.”
Toomey won election over Sestak in 2010 in a squeaker. He had 51 percent of the vote and beat Sestak by fewer than 100,000 votes. Whoever the Democratic candidate is come next fall, the election promises to be close. Pennsylvania showed a bluer tint last month when Democrats swept three open spots on the State Supreme Court and would have won those positions even if the vote totals from Philadelphia for each candidate had been eliminated.
Though the state Republicans are bound to attract publicity for the Trump event, the overall benefit could belong to the Democrats.
“I don’t speak to the GOP, but you can certainly take a lot away from the fact they are still having an event,” said Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock. “They’re drifting over into McCarthyism, where you’re actually singling out people. I’m surprised they as a party in a moderate state like Pennsylvania would embrace somebody who is out there on the lunatic fringe.”