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It was a successful joke, and people smiled and laughed.

Less than 24 hours after Mr. Sestak’s education event, Mr. Toomey was at this 1950s-style diner in Clearfield County, shaking hands and chomping on a hamburger as he neared the end of a four-day “More Jobs, Less Government” tour.

His laundry list of beefs with the Democratic agenda have become familiar to conservative audiences - federal stimulus, health care reform, and “cap-and-trade” environmental legislation that passed the House with Mr. Sestak’s support. He warned that the “most liberal wing of the Democratic Party” is trying to “turn America into a European-style welfare state.”

The polished politician, always on message, said that in a recent profile on Mr. Sestak, the only disagreement the Democrat could find with his party is that the $814 billion economic stimulus legislation was too small.

“What they are doing is pretty dangerous. I think the policies we’re seeing come out of Washington are increasingly becoming the reason that we are not having the kind of economic recovery and job creation that we could be having and should be having,” Mr. Toomey said.

He appeared confident. Perhaps it was because a Franklin & Marshall College poll released earlier that day showed him 9 percentage points ahead of Mr. Sestak.

“I know exactly what an entrepreneur goes through when deciding whether or not to launch a business and where to put it and what kind of investments to make,” he said, alluding to the time he spent running a family restaurant with his brothers. “I have been there, and I have done all that. Joe Sestak has never spent a day in the private sector, and I wonder sometimes whether that is the reason he is supporting so many policies that are doing so much damage.”

He closed his comments with a parting shot at Democrats and a quote from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“He said about all us of, ‘You know, you can always count on Americans to get it right, after they exhausted every other possible option,’ ” he said. “So, I look at this Obama-Pelosi-Sestak agenda as the process of exhausting the other options.”

“This fall, we are going to get it right,” he said.