Thursday, July 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Corbett taps Bush speechwriter for budget address

HARRISBURG - Facing what political observers say could be a key moment in his reelection bid, Gov. Corbett has hired the man who crafted some of President George W. Bush's most memorable remarks to help write the budget address he will deliver Tuesday.

Despite a stable of speechwriters in the Governor's Office, Corbett's campaign will pay John P. McConnell to fine-tune the presentation, the closest thing in Pennsylvania politics to a State of the Union address.

The governor's campaign confirmed Thursday that it would pick up the tab but declined to say how much it would pay McConnell, author or coauthor of Bush's 2005 inaugural speech, four State of the Union addresses, and other public statements.

The decision underscores how critical it is for Corbett, who is running for reelection this year, to begin chipping away at the negative image poll after poll has shown voters have of him. A Franklin and Marshall College survey released Thursday found only one in four voters believed the Republican governor had done a good-enough job to deserve reelection.

Several people in the governor's inner circle, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak, said there was a feeling that Corbett cannot take any chances or risk any more political stumbles between now and the election.

For Corbett, public speaking does not come naturally, even his closest advisers concede. That has put him at a disadvantage as he has faced unrelenting opposition, ranging from Democratic legislators to advocates for children, excoriating him for slashing funding for public schools in his first year in office, and leaving districts with little choice but to sharply reduce school staff and programs.

Tuesday's budget presentation, televised and delivered to the full legislature, will offer Corbett a chance to tell his side of the story, without interruption, of his policies and priorities over the last three years.

 


acouloumbis@phillynews.com

717-787-5934

@AngelasInk

Inquirer staff writer Amy Worden contributed to this article.

Angela Couloumbis and Thomas Fitzgerald Inquirer Staff Writers
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