Responding to remarks made last week by Gov. Ed Rendell concerning senior citizens, Crawford County Republicans joined GOP member across the state Friday in holding a press conference to voice their dismay.

Rendell was quoted as saying that some seniors “lead very gray lives. They don’t see their sons and daughters very much. They don’t have much social interaction. There’s not a whole lot of good things that happen in their month,” he said.

He explained that when those seniors board a bus to a casino, they are excited, happy and have fun, noting they see bright lights and hear music. “They pull that slot machine and with each pull they think they have a chance to win. It’s unbelievable what brightness and cheer it brings to older Pennsylvanians,” Rendell was quoted as saying about the gambling.

“I am very much appalled and angry,” said Howard Roxberry of Saegertown. “I feel that it is totally unconscionable for him to characterize our senior citizens” by saying that their only enjoyment and fulfillment is to board a bus to a gambling casino.

“Let’s be real here,” he said. “Most seniors have much better uses for their income.” He said it is sad that this is the type of leadership the state has — one he says is demeaning to seniors.

Marian Van Buren of Hayfield Township agreed, saying Rendell is wrong for “placing justification for gambling on the backs of senior citizens.” She said while she doesn’t like to call herself a senior citizen, she is. She added that she is an active citizen, volunteering in many ways and not leaving a dull, gray life.

Crawford County Republican Chairman Robyn Sye called Rendell’s remarks demeaning and unfair and said seniors don’t have to rely on “being put on a bus to the Great Lakes or somewhere else to gamble.”

Dan Fee of Gov. Rendell’s campaign said the governor’s words “were taken out of context.” He said the governor was not referring to senior citizens statewide, but to a “specific group of people,” in Philadelphia that Rendell knows who do board a bus for a gambling trip to brighten their day.

He said Rendell is well aware that many seniors lead happy and productive lives and said the press conferences held by Republicans across the state Friday were initiated by Rendell’s challenger, Republican gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann.

Sye said she contacted Swann’s campaign after reading Rendell’s remarks and denied that she was given any scripted remarks.

Fee said while criticizing Rendell, Swann has offered no plan to help seniors.

Crawford County Democratic Chairman James Schlosser agreed with Fee. “Mr. Rendell was not painting with a broad brush,” he said. “He was talking about a specific group of people.” At the same time, he said if one goes to Atlantic City, the people in the casinos are seniors. “Atlantic City is primarily funded by seniors. There are a lot of seniors there. They obviously have more disposable income than the seniors in Crawford County.”

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Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at jsmith@meadvilletribune.com







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