WILKES-BARRE — As the race for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania heats up, Lou Barletta is pulling out all stops.
A Republican and a good friend of President Donald Trump, Barletta, 62, of Hazleton, is running against incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, 58, of Scranton, who is seeking his third six-year term.
Barletta has embarked on a statewide bus tour, visiting every burg, town, village, township, borough, city and farm in the state to sway voters his way.
Casey brings his experience, his disdain for Trump, and his mega-million campaign treasury to the fray.
Among much else, Lou has brought his dog, Reilly, a handsome English cream golden retriever.
Reilly is not just at Lou’s side, playing the traditional role of his master’s best friend. Reilly is taking it a step further — the canine campaign worker is writing a blog for Lou, despite having no opposable thumbs.
Despite this disadvantage, Reilly is persevering. He has penned a few entries into his blog, which Lou hopes is being followed by more than just other dogs.
This campaign strategy reminded me of two “talking dog” stories.
The first is about a man walking his dog and both are wearing Yankee hats. A man stops them and asks about their Yankee favorites. The Yankee dog owner tell the man that his dog speaks, to which the man replies, “Prove it.”
The man asks his dog what covers their house and the dog replied, “Roof.”
Then he asks the dog what the bark on a tree feels like. The dog says, “Ruff.”
Then he asks the dog, who is the greatest Yankee of all time? The dog says, “Ruth.”
The inquiring man gets upset, says the whole talking dog thing is a ruse and he storms away.
After he is gone, the Yankee dog turns to his Yankee fan master and says, “Should I have said DiMaggio?”
The other one is about a man passing a farmhouse when he sees a sign out front: “Talking dog available for free.” The man stops, gets out of his car, and as he walks to the door of the farmhouse, he sees the dog sitting in the shade.
“Do you really talk?” he asks the dog. The dog replies,” Yes I do. But that’s not all I do.”
The man asks the dog to explain. The dog goes on to tell the man that he has worked for the FBI on Top Secret cases, infiltrating crime rings and leading investigations that resulted in multiple arrests and convictions. The man is impressed. The dog goes on to say he was then assigned to the CIA where he infiltrated several terrorist groups and, in fact, it was he who found Osama Bin Laden. The man can’t believe what he is hearing.
The man knocks on the farmer’s door and says he is interested in the talking dog, but he asks why the man wants to give him away.
“That dog is a bull-thrower,” the farmer said. “He’s never been out of the yard.”
And now back to Reilly. I have met Reilly. Reilly is a great dog. He is very friendly and easygoing. He is adored by all who meet him. But the question is, can Reilly make a significant difference in Lou’s campaign?
Reilly has written about a few stops on the bus tour. He really liked stopping at Duke’s Delites in the Lehigh Valley that makes dog treats.
“So while Lou learned about their programs to help developmentally disabled folks learn work skills, I got to eat some tasty treats,” Reilly blogged. “We then headed down to Lebanon County where Lou got to tell new friends about how he wants to help the farmers in rural Pennsylvania succeed. The people were so nice and Lou got to eat some good people food there (he snuck me some leftovers, so trust me, it was good).”
Is there anything there that might persuade voters who are still on the fence to come over to Lou’s side?
More blogs have followed, mostly Reilly talking about all the great food he has sampled on the campaign trail. Reilly even said by the third day of the bus tour, he was tuckered out.
Campaigning can be tiresome — any candidate will tell you that. It puts a toll on all. It will all be over come Nov. 6 when the voters of Pennsylvania will decide whom they want in the U.S. Senate.
But if you ask any dog following this race what they think Lou’s chances are, they all might have the same answer.
It’s going to be “ruff,” they might say.
But not impossible.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at [email protected]