Santorum says 'howdy'

The increasingly acrimonious battle between Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and his midterm challenger, state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D), has taken its mudslinging into cyberspace.

Accusing Casey of shirking his responsibilities as treasurer to run for Senate and raise money, Santorum’s campaign yesterday unveiled an Old West-themed website, wherescasey.com, that features, among other things, a cowboy.

Users who click on the door of a make-believe state treasury office are greeted by an animated, mustachioed cowpoke who exclaims, “Well, howdy partner! No, Casey’s not in here. I reckon he’s out mudslinging.” Then he gets walloped in the face with a mud pie.

Casey is shown on a “wanted poster” that reads “Have you seen this man?” and is signed “The people of Pennsylvania.”

Santorum, who consistently trails Casey by double digits in opinion polls, offers some substance on the site as well.

By clicking on links that appear on a not-so-welcoming wagon, visitors can view criticisms from the Santorum campaign on the themes of Casey not fulfilling the duties of his state office, refusing to debate Santorum and campaigning too negatively.

Last week, Casey’s camp staged a weeklong public-affairs effort that questioned Santorum’s ethical conduct in the Senate and on the campaign trail.