WASHINGTON — Fresh off of a 13-point win in his re-election bid, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey isn't ruling out a presidential bid in 2020.
The Pennsylvania Democrat said he knows how to win a crucial state with a significant rural population that President Donald Trump won in 2016, which he says will be necessary to beating the president in two years.
Will he jump in the race himself?
“We'll see what happens,” he said in an exclusive interview in his office Thursday when asked twice if he plans to run for president.
Casey says that Democrats need to maintain their strength in urban and suburban districts, especially among women, but they also need to drive up the margins in rural areas, too. He argues he successfully did that in his re-election race when he won 44 percent of the vote in rural areas against Rep. Lou Barletta, a hard-line immigration critic who ran close to Trump.
“I didn’t win it but getting (above) 40 percent is a significant victory,” Casey said, adding that he won rural women by two points.
The senator, first elected to the Senate in 2006, said that he not only showed up in rural areas but campaigned on issues they care about: opioids, infrastructure, child care and especially health care.
He adds that Democrats have to figure out how to show that they can relate to and care about rural voters.
“A lot of this comes down not just to an issue list, but to show you give a damn about their lives and their future and the future of their children,” he said.
If Casey's flirtations with a bid prove serious, he'll add his name to an increasingly crowded field of Democratic senators who are currently exploring a presidential bid. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California are all weighing bids, as at least a dozen more outside of the Senate are considering running for president too.
Casey acknowledged the size of the field could complicate any potential bid.
“It’s going to be a multi-candidate field and that's probably the biggest understatement. They'll be a lot of variety in that field, so we'll have to see what happens,” he said.
Casey, however, said that to win the White House, a Democrat will have to win Pennsylvania, which Trump narrowly won by less than a point, and Michigan and/or Wisconsin. He said the paths are similar on the national stage to how he won his race in Pennsylvania: “I think it's enormously helpful to try and replicate as best you can what we're able to do here.”