PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett backed off Tuesday from controversial comments he made about the state's jobless last week.
On Friday, Corbett suggested some jobless residents don't want to return to work while they can still collect unemployment benefits.
Corbett made the comment on Pennsylvania Public Radio while campaigning for governor in Elizabethtown.
"People don't want to come back to work while they still have unemployment. They're literally telling -- I'll come back to work when the unemployment runs out. That's becoming a problem," Corbett said on the radio.
"The jobs are there, but if we keep extending unemployment the people are going to sit there and... I've literally had construction companies tell me, I can't get people to come back to work, until... they say, 'I'll come back to work when unemployment runs out.'"
On Tuesday, Corbett, a Republican, told a Philadelphia television station, "I regret that in that one statement, I may not have been clear or complete as I possibly could."
He told the station he was simply repeating accounts he had heard from "five, six, seven different people across the state of Pennsylvania, that they weren't able to get workers."
"So there are some jobs out there," he said. "I didn't say there are jobs out there for everybody there. I didn't say it well."
He also apologized to anyone who viewed him as insensitive because of his choice of words, and said the state needed to do better at connecting people who need jobs with employers who are hiring.
His latest remarks came on the same day a new poll showed him maintaining a lead over Democrat Dan Onorato, Allegheny County's chief executive.
According to an article in Wednesday's Philadelphia Inquirer, a Quinnipiac University poll gave Corbett an edge of 44 to 37 percent over Onorato, with many voters still undecided.
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. A previous Quinnipiac poll, released shortly before the May 18 primary, gave Corbett a virtually identical 43-37 advantage in a head-to-head race with Onorato, according to the Inquirer.
"That's a formula for a victory for Republicans in Pennsylvania if those numbers hold up," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, told the newspaper Tuesday.
The poll surveyed 1,367 registered Pennsylvania voters between July 6 and July 11 -- thus including two days after Corbett made news with his comments about the unemployed.
Brown said it was impossible to gauge what effect, if any, Corbett's words had on the results.
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