PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With the race between incumbent Sen. Bob Casey and his Republican challenger Tom Smith tightening according to most polls, KDKA political editor Jon Delano sat down with each of them.

Smith repeated his attack on Casey as an empty suit who does little.

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“United States senators are supposed to lead, not follow, and Sen. Bob Casey is a follower,” says Smith.

“He must have missed the fact that 160 million Americans got a tax cut when we cut the payroll tax,” retorts Casey, “and I was the lead in the Senate on that.”

In his soft, deliberate way, Casey ticks off his accomplishments, including saving the 911th Airlift base, and then accuses Smith of being a Tea Party extremist.

“I think it’s a pretty extreme agenda,” says Casey. “He even endorsed the budget which in Washington is called the Rand Paul budget. It’s the most radical extreme budget in Washington.”

That includes, says Casey, privatizing Social Security and Medicare for both current and future retirees, but Smith disputes that characterization.

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“There is no way that Tom Smith is going to vote for anything that takes benefits away from the seniors that’s on it now or soon to be on it,” says Smith.

Smith, who organized the Tea Party in Armstrong County, doesn’t deny his Conservative roots.

“He can call me any of those things. That’s fine. Get it out there. Let the voters decide,” says Smith.

“You have to represent Pennsylvania, not an extreme agenda,” adds Casey.

Whether voters see Casey as a do-nothing senator or Smith as a radical Tea Party extremist really depends on whether you accept the candidates’ characterization of each other.

The campaign has become increasingly negative, and is likely to remain until Election Day, one week from today.

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