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Senator Pat Toomey. Credit: Medill DC/Flickr Senator Pat Toomey. Credit: Medill DC/Flickr

Senator Pat Toomey. Credit: Medill DC/Flickr

By Cassie Owens May 16, 2016
Loghan Thain
By Loghan Thain May 16, 2016
By Dávid Tvrdoň May 16, 2016

Pat Toomey says Katie McGinty agrees with Hillary Clinton on everything -- does she?

Correction appended

During a recent broadcast of Dom Giordano’s Philadelphia talk radio show on 1210AM, as Buzzfeed reported, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., called it outrageous that Democratic nominee Katie McGinty tied him to GOP Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. The two have wasted no time battling it out ever since McGinty won the Democratic primary April 26 to take on Toomey in the general election.

As a comeback, Toomey compared McGinty’s campaign stances to those of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. "She actually agrees with Hillary Clinton and the most liberal wing of the Democrats on everything," said Toomey.

We reached out to Toomey’s campaign for more background. "The only times McGinty has publicly deviated from the Obama and Clinton agenda are when she's gone even further to the left, like embracing Bernie Sanders-style single-payer healthcare and defending sanctuary cities," Communications Director Ted Kwong said to PolitiFact PA in an email statement.

Many observers would dispute aligning Clinton with party’s most liberal faction. Nevertheless, we looked through issues backed by two candidates, and we found that Toomey’s claim doesn’t hold up entirely. Sure, there are plenty of things McGinty and Clinton agree on. Both cite a need for good-paying jobs and strengthening America’s clean energy economy — just two examples out of many. But, we haven’t found evidence to prove that Clinton and McGinty agree on each issue. Actually, we were able to find a couple on which their views don’t align.

One of Clinton’s big campaign issues is that "climate change is an urgent threat," and she says we need to "invest in clean energy innovations." McGinty has the same stance. However, when you look at fracking, McGinty’s views set her apart from much of the party. Clinton’s position has evolved some, but at present she believes fracking should only be permitted if the local residents approve. McGinty on the other hand thinks, with proper taxation and regulation, fracking should get the green light.

The two democratic nominees also have had very different histories with free trade. Clinton’s position on NAFTA is complicated, to say the least. When Bill Clinton first signed the agreement into law in 1993, Hillary Clinton publicly supported it, but that support has waned over time. She most recently publicly backed NAFTA in her autobiography written in 2003 and in a teleconference that took place in 2004. Since that time, Clinton has not made public statements defending the free trade agreement. In fact, in 2008 Clinton called herself a "critic of NAFTA from the very beginning." In reality, Clinton’s public position on NAFTA has certainly shifted over the past few years. McGinty’s stance on NAFTA has also evolved, but her present position is much less convoluted. In a democratic debate live from the University Park campus of Penn State last month, McGinty called NAFTA "something that hasn’t worked in 30 years."

So, it’s not the case to say that the two candidates agree on everything. It would be more accurate to say they share the vast majority of issues that they’ve endorse publicly. This is pretty common in Democratic races.

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In the lead-up to the primary, polling expert G. Terry Madonna told TribLive that McGinty differed little in stances from her fellow Democratic candidates, John Fetterman and Joe Sestak. "This campaign is about personalities and style," Madonna said. "On 100 issues in the Senate, these candidates would probably vote the same way on 98 of them. I don't think the issues are as defining as who these candidates are."

Richardson Dilworth, director of the Center for Public Policy at Drexel University, argued that campaign stances aren’t always directly representative of a candidate’s personal beliefs, but of the campaign’s stakeholders, of the constituencies the politician is aiming to attract. Looking beyond established platforms, two candidates can differ on more than their common planks would suggest.

"There’s a distinction between [Clinton’s] personal opinions and what she promises as a candidate. Those two things don’t have to agree. There’s no reason to expect that she’s going to have the same personal opinions as she would have about positions she publicly takes because the positions she has to take as a candidate are going to be negotiations among many stakeholders," Dilworth said.

Dilworth thinks McGinty’s and Clinton’s strong similarities are no coincidence, though. "Pennsylvania is, to a certain extent, representative of the country, more so than many other states," said Dilworth. "In that respect, McGinty will be making a lot of the same pitches as Hillary Clinton because she’s going for the same kinds of voters."

Our ruling

Senator Pat Toomey stated that Katie McGinty agrees with Hillary Clinton on everything. After closer inspection, it has become clear that although McGinty and Clinton share similar positions on many issues, there are a couple of significant instances where their opinions differ. Furthermore, many of their shared opinions can be attributed to the similarities in their intended audiences.

McGinty and Clinton have expressed similar public opinions on many issues, but it wouldn’t be wholly accurate to say that they agree with each other on everything. We rate the claim Half True.

 

An earlier version of this story characterized Katie McGinty's views on fracking as in line with Bernie Sanders. This is inaccurate. As the article describes, she is pro-fracking, provided taxes and fair regulation are in place. Sanders is decidedly anti-fracking.

Our Sources

Politifact, "Clinton has changed on NAFTA," Feb. 25th, 2008

The Washington Post, "Hillary Clinton’s position on free trade? It’s (very) complicated," June 17th, 2015

National Public Radio, "A Timeline Of Hillary Clinton's Evolution On Trade," April 21, 2015

WPSU Penn State, "Race for the Senate: Democratic Candidates Debate," April 9th, 2016

Email, Steve Kelly, press secretary, Toomey for Senate, May 4, 2016

Email, Ted Kwong, communications director, Toomey for Senate, May 5, 2016

Phone interview, Richardson Dilworth, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Public Policy, Drexel University, May 11th, 2016

Buzzfeed, "Pat Toomey: "Outrageous" For Democratic Challenger To Tie Me To Trump," April 28th, 2016

"Issues," Katie McGinty’s Website

"Issues," Hillary Clinton’s Website

Penn Live, "McGinty opposes Democratic call for fracking ban," June 21st, 2013

The Washington Post, "How Clinton will rebuff Sanders on ‘fracking’," April 8th, 2016

Triblive, "Personalities of Pa. candidates take center stage in tightening U.S. Senate race," April 16th, 2016

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Pat Toomey says Katie McGinty agrees with Hillary Clinton on everything -- does she?

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