PHILADELPHIA—Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty had an opportunity to boost her image during this week's Democratic National Convention in her hometown of Philadelphia, but a major gaffe and a lackluster speech have critics questioning whether the Democrats chose the best candidate to win Pennsylvania's crucial Senate election.
McGinty took the stage at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night just before 6 p.m.and spoke to a convention crowd filled with chatter that drowned out much of her speech, which was not aired on any of the major news networks.
Many in the Pennsylvania delegation stood and talked among themselves, neglecting to hold up the McGinty signs that were distributed to them before the speech.
Those who were listening were not impressed.
McGinty was criticized by both national and local political commentators during the speech.
"Whatever virtues recommended Katie McGinty to the Democratic Party, public speaking is not on the list," said Vox's Matthew Yglesias.
"The Democratic machine must really, really, really, really, really, really hate Joe Sestak," said FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten.
"McGinty sounds like she's speaking to a kindergarten class, not a convention hall," said National Journal‘s Josh Kraushaar, who added that the speech should raise a "red flag."
Alex Roarty, a political reporter at Roll Call covering Pennsylvania, commented that this performance was not out of the ordinary.
"Katie McGinty isn't a dynamic public presence," he said. "Think that's been clear since the very start of her campaign."
The decision for national Democrats to tip the scales in favor of McGinty, who was trailing Sestak in the polls when she received an endorsement from President Obama and millions of dollars from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was also criticized by Pennsylvania delegates in the convention hall.
"We are a party that keeps saying we want to get the money out of politics and they poured millions of dollars into her campaign to beat somebody they were afraid of," John Ferguson, a Pennsylvania delegate who did not vote for McGinty in the party's primary, told the Washington Free Beacon.
In an interview following her Thursday night speech, McGinty told the Free Beacon that delegate concerns over the way she won the party's primary are unfounded.
"Listen, it always takes a team," McGinty said. "I was gratified to have national groups jump in but the engine of the train was the passion of the people in Pennsylvania."
"We wound up at the end of the day winning by 10 percent and 59 out of 67 counties," said McGinty. "Towards the end I was very grateful to receive the support of the Democratic committee, but that was icing on the cake for us in a primary where anybody and everybody who could endorse in our primary, they endorsed us."
McGinty's weak performance on stage follows an already a bad week for McGinty.
She was forced to apologize to Republican opponent Sen. Pat Toomey after she called him an "a**hole" on Monday. She was even criticized by her own campaign chairman, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who said the comment was "extreme" and said that he is "not one for name calling."
Republicans have seized on the comment, releasing an ad that plays off Hillary Clinton's criticisms of Donald Trump's comments.
"Katie McGinty has shown why she has been shielded from the public eye for so much of her campaign," said Alleigh Marre of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "In what should have been the easiest week to earn positive press, McGinty couldn’t resist name-calling and gutter politics."