Interview with Bob Casey, Jr. | Valerie Schmalz | July 29, 2005

Interview with Bob Casey, Jr. | Valerie Schmalz | July 29, 2005

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Bob Casey, Jr., a Democrat, is running for the U.S. Senate in 2006 against incumbent Republican Senator Rick Santorum. Casey is a graduate of The College of the Holy Cross (1982) and received his law degree from Catholic University in 1988 before entering the practice of law in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Casey was elected Auditor General of Pennsylvania in 1996 and re-elected in 2000. In 2002, he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor. In 2004, he was elected State Treasurer, winning more votes than any other candidate for any state or federal office in the history of the Commonwealth. Casey is the eldest son of the late Governor Robert P. Casey and his wife, Ellen. For more about Casey and his campaign, visit his website,

Valerie Schmalz of recently interviewed Casey and asked him about his campaign, his views on life issues, and how he differs philosophically and politically from Sen. Santorum. What do you think are the top three issues facing this country?

Bob Casey, Jr.:
Not necessarily in any order, some of the top issues are: health care; security; and ensuring our children receive a good education and that we have a highly trained workforce. You are described as a pro-life Democrat. Would you explain your stance on the death penalty, abortion, and embryonic stem cell research and human cloning? How would you vote if the Castle bill came to you in the Senate? [Editor's note: The Castle bill would allow embryonic stem cell research on so-called "left over" embryos from in-vitro fertilization clinics. It was approved 238 to 194 by the House of Representatives on May 24, 2005. Its formal name is The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. It was sponsored by Delaware Republican Rep. Mike Castle and in the Senate is sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter and Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.]  How do your positions differ from those of your opponent?

I believe that being pro-life means the right to a decent life for a mother and her child before and after birth.

I am and I have always been pro-life. 

I support the current federal policy on embryonic stem cell research and would oppose the Castle bill to expand federal support of embryonic stem cell research.  I believe that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for those who have committed heinous crimes.   

As a U.S. Senator, I will strongly support funding for stem cell research that doesn’t destroy an embryo.  There are many promising techniques under development that don’t require destroying the embryo and there’s good reason to hope that soon we’ll be able to remove the politics from this issue.

I also strongly support increased federal funding for research on stem cells derived from adult cells, bone marrow and placentas — areas where tremendous progress has already been made. As the son of a famous pro-life Democrat, the late Gov. Robert Casey, can you remark on how your father influenced you as a politician? How do your wife and children influence your approach to politics?

The most important lesson I learned from my father was the unconditional love he had for my mother, his eight children, and his grandchildren.

As a candidate and a public official, he taught me and many other Pennsylvanians that public service was a trust and that trust must be earned every day as a public official.

He also said "the most important quality a person can bring to political office is a passion for justice and a sense of outrage in the face of injustice."

My wife Terese and our four daughters influence me every day in the most profound way by their love and support for me. As a Catholic, does your faith shape your positions and actions? If so, in what ways?

Yes. My Catholic faith and the values reflected in that faith have always had a profound impact on me as a person and as a public official.  I try to live up to the teachings of my faith in my personal life and in my public life. Sen. Santorum has criticized you for your support of the judicial filibuster that he says is used solely to enforce compliance with Roe v. Wade. Could you comment on that?

The filibuster is one of the only mechanisms available in the Senate that forces more bipartisanship.  We need more common ground and cooperation in Washington.  My opponent has filibustered Democratic nominees.  He’s trying to have it both ways. You are supported by the national Democratic Party and Howard Dean. Dean, who is backed enthusiastically by such groups as NARAL, is promoting your candidacy. Why?

Leaders in the Democratic Party as well as voters in both parties are supporting me in this campaign for a variety of reasons: I have a strong record as Auditor General and State Treasurer of being a tough and independent fiscal watchdog and an advocate for children and older Pennsylvanians.

When I was elected Treasurer, I received more votes than any candidate in Pennsylvania history.

As a pro-life Democrat, I have a different position on abortion than many national elected officials and that’s why an organization like NARAL won’t support me in the campaign.

As I’ve talked to people across Pennsylvania, they agree with me that we need to change the direction that Washington is headed.  For example, health care should be a major priority in the Senate and not enough is being done now. Why did you choose to challenge Rick Santorum rather than Arlen Specter?

I grew increasingly concerned about the direction of the current leadership in Washington.  I am concerned about the increasing deficits, the budget cuts for vital services, the threats to dismantle Social Security, and failure to address the cost of health care.  And we need to change the viciousness and divisive partisan politics that is overwhelming Washington.

I was also moved by the messages I received from around Pennsylvania encouraging me to run for the Senate.  Some of the first people to contact me about the race were young people and Pennsylvanians from all walks of life who want a change in Washington. How would you say you are different from Rick Santorum and why should the people of Pennsylvania support you? 

There are a number of fundamental differences between my opponent and myself.  He has spent his time in Washington focused on partisanship and the special interests.  I want to return the focus to the needs of Pennsylvania.

We need to focus on the common values that bring people in Pennsylvania together and on Pennsylvania priorities.

Related link: Interview with Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum | Valerie Schmalz | June 29, 2005

Valerie Schmalz is a writer for IgnatiusInsight. She worked as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press, and in print and broadcast media for ten years. She holds a BA in Government from University of San Francisco and a Master of Science from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is the former director of Birthright of San Francisco. Valerie and her wonderful husband have four children.