By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain from Philadelphia announced his campaign for governor on Monday, but the Republican spent his first day on the campaign trail in Pittsburgh.

McSwain is not well known yet in western Pennsylvania, which explains why he campaigned at Cupka’s Cafe on the South Side, invoking his Marine background in a region known for its veterans. The 52-year-old father of four pressed the flesh.

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“We have a motto in the Marine Corps – Semper Fi. It means Always Faithful. Semper Fi, Pennsylvania. Semper Fi, Pittsburgh. You can count on me to be faithful to you – always,” McSwain told a small group of greeters.

The Ivy League lawyer and native of West Chester, outside Philadelphia, says his focus is to create economic and educational opportunity. But the former federal prosecutor is best known for his stance as a tough-on-crime, tough-on-violent-protesters and very pro-police prosecutor.

“I put rioters, arsonists and looters in jail who tried to destroy Philadelphia. In my opinion, people who torch police cars and throw Molotov cocktails in front of city hall, these are not heroes. These are criminals to be prosecuted,” McSwain told his supporters.

In an interview with KDKA political editor Jon Delano, McSwain condemned what he calls a culture of lawlessness and disrespect for police. He says it’s a problem in Pittsburgh and many urban areas that has led to more shootings than ever.

“Much of the problem is because of a lack of support for the police by our public officials and by our elected officials. What I did as U.S. Attorney is that I made it very clear that I stood with law enforcement. I stood with the police, and I was going to have their back.”

McSwain says as governor, he will boost funding, not cut it, for local police in the neighborhoods.

“They need to be on their toes. They need to be proactive. They need to be in the community, doing the things to keep the community safe. And when they are unfairly criticized and when they’re not supported by public officials, they’re on their heels. And when they’re on their heels, crime spikes,” says McSwain.

McSwain is sharply critical of Gov. Tom Wolf for his statewide mandates during the COVID pandemic, but unlike governors in Florida and Texas, McSwain would allow local officials to make their own decisions on mandates.

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“I’m in favor of local input and local control. So I’m anti-mandate, and that would include allowing local officials, school boards, county officials and the like the flexibility and discretion and freedom for them to decide what’s best for their community,” he said.

On abortion, McSwain says he’s pro-life but would allow abortions in the case of rape and incest, something the new Texas anti-abortion law does not permit.

As for whether fraud in Pennsylvania prevented Donald Trump from winning this state as the former president claims, McSwain was asked:

Delano: “Do you believe that Pennsylvania was stolen from President Trump in that election of 2020?”

McSwain: “I believe that Joe Biden is the president, unfortunately, and he’s a bad president.”

“There were a lot of things wrong from a procedural standpoint – the way it was managed, the way it was run, it was very partisan. And I think that’s why a lot of people throughout the state don’t have confidence in the results of our election,” says McSwain.

McSwain says he will support election reforms if he’s elected.

So far eight Republicans have declared for Governor with several others still considering it. There are no announced Democratic candidates yet, although most expect Attorney General Josh Shapiro to run.

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The primary in both parties is eight months away.