Elizabeth Warren Rallies Penn Students for McGinty and Clinton

The Massachusetts senator and the Pa. hopeful asked the crowd to reject Pat Toomey and Donald Trump.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, and Senate candidate Katie McGinty. McGinty photo by Matt Slocum/AP

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, and Senate candidate Katie McGinty. McGinty photo by Matt Slocum/AP

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has said he’s convinced that Pennsylvanians are smart enough to differentiate between the various elections that are being held this November. And he’s convinced he can keep his seat even if Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, takes the state, which most polls show she’s likely to do.

There are senators and there are presidents, he says. It doesn’t matter what he thinks of Donald Trump (not that he’d tell you what he thinks anyway). They’re different dudes. Really.

But more and more, the Senate campaign between Toomey and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty is playing out on the Clinton-Trump mainstage. On Friday afternoon at Penn, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren were rallying students to vote McGinty-Clinton and reject Toomey-Trump.

“I’m with Hillary and I’m with Katie,” Warren said. “I am here today for two tough, smart women with Pennsylvania roots and Pennsylvania values.”

The crowd of students packed into the hot auditorium of Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology received Warren enthusiastically. The Massachusetts senator, who also used to teach at Penn, has rock-star power. She’s been a consistently sharp watchdog on banks and the financial system, and was an early advocate for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

As it happens, just this week the bureau took its strongest enforcement action to date, fining Wells Fargo $100 million for a scheme in which employees opened new accounts for customers, without the customers’ knowledge, in order to meet sales goals and earn bonuses. McGinty seized on the incident in a press release Friday morning.

“The fact that so many families were robbed by their own bank is scary, but here’s the even scarier truth: if Pat Toomey had his way, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wouldn’t exist, and Wells Fargo would likely have gotten away with ripping off and stealing money from Pennsylvanians,” McGinty said in a statement emailed to reporters.

(While Toomey has said in the past that he favors repealing the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, he has not specifically called for the abolition of the Bureau. Lately, he has proposed some changes to the agency, like increasing the threshold for the size of banks and financial institutions it monitors directly.)

McGinty picked up the thread again on Friday afternoon. And she brought a little folksy twang along with it, asking students, “While we’re sendin’ Pat packin’, will ya join me in dumpin’ Trump?”

Senate campaigns always get sucked into the larger presidential campaigns when the two happen to coincide, and this year in particular, Trump’s bluster has simply sucked all the alternative air out of the room. A Democrat can’t not talk about him (and Toomey can’t seem to bear to talk about him at all). On Friday, Warren spent a considerable portion of her speech tying Toomey to Trump, “a small, insecure money-grubber who will never be president of the United States.”

That line (and a bunch of others) earned Warren a standing ovation. And the crowd seemed more enthusiastic for McGinty than they have at some previous events. I noted before that there was a brief, failed attempt to get a chant going after she spoke at an EMILY’s List event during the DNC. But on Friday it was strong and clear: “Katie! Katie! Katie!”

McGinty and Toomey have been repeatedly trading a very narrow lead in the polls. The election is November 8th.

This story has been updated to clarify Pat Toomey’s position on the CFPB.

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