Campaigning in the Capitol

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Gov. Corbett (right) and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey greeted Kathleen Kane before she took her oath of office as state attorney general this month. MATT ROURKE / Associated Press

Perhaps it's emblematic of the nature of today's politics and the never-ending campaign but during and after Gov. Corbett's budget address Tuesday there was, well, campaigning in the Capitol.

First there was an awkward moment when Corbett took the podium before a joint session of the Legislature and went off-script. He directed attention to his left where sat his cabinet and the state's row officers, the latter all Democrats.

He made a reference to Treasurer Rob McCord saying, "I'm not going to ask you to stand," and then asked Auditor General Gene DePasquale and Attorney General Kathleen Kane to stand.

Both were welcomed with loud applause.

Now I know Corbett's intent was to say McCord isn't new, he was reelected, but the other two are new so let's say hi. But colleagues in the press gallery asked, "Did he just dis McCord?" And, "Is he afraid of McCord but not the others?" And the post-event buzz was maybe Corbett was thinking McCord could run against me, the others won't, so I won't give McCord any chance to take a bow.

McCord later told me, "I thought it was funny...I didn't take offense."

After the speech, two more obvious opponents were present in what's become a post-bugdet spin-room -- the Capitol dome rotunda mezzanine area -- offering criticism of Corbett's plans.

Announced Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hanger asserted Corbett's too far right, especially in opting out of federally-funded Medicaid money to help lower-income folks. Hanger called the decision "astounding," evidence that Corbett "seems to think the gas industry is more important than health care" and representative of "a third year of failed leadership."

Close by was Montco Commissioner Bruce Castor who's considering running against Corbett in the 2014 GOP primary. Castor argued Corbett isn't right enough.

"He set the bar about as low as any Republican governor could have," said Castor.

The former county DA said Corbett should have called for a 20 percent cut in corporate taxes, repeal of Gov. Rendell's personal income tax hike, an end to forced union membership and a cap on government spending.

So knives were out on both sides. I can't remember another time a sitting governor a full year from reelection was attacked by opponents of both parties who actually came to the Capitol on budget day to be part of the post-speech scrum.

Problem is their messages were mostly lost in coverage of the Guv's message. Perhaps their time would have been better spent dialing for dollars since His Excellency already has $3.5 million in the bank and is certain to raise tens of millions more.

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