- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania was forced Thursday to explain her campaign trail statements that she was the first in her big family to go to college - even though an older brother graduated from college years before her.

Katie McGinty’s brother John received degrees from La Salle University and Temple University before she started attending St. Joseph’s University in 1981, soon after she graduated from high school.

The claim is a key campaign talking point of McGinty’s as the Philadelphia native has played up her blue-collar roots in her challenge to Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey in a race that could tilt control of the U.S. Senate.

McGinty has made rising student loan debt a central part of her campaign, and has cast herself as the candidate who would do more to make college more affordable.

The McGinty campaign said the difference is that John McGinty earned credits from a community college before getting a bachelor’s degree from La Salle.

In a statement released by his sister’s campaign, John McGinty said “the way that Katie and our family have always talked about our experience is she was the first of the 10 McGinty kids to attend and graduate from a four-year college, straight out of high school.”

Buzzfeed first reported Wednesday that McGinty’s brother graduated from La Salle in 1973. He also received a master’s degree from Temple in 1978.

In January, McGinty told The Associated Press she was “the ninth of 10 kids and the first in my family to go to college.” Her Facebook site repeated the claim on Feb. 25. Her campaign website said she was the first to go to a “four-year college.”

In a brief interview Thursday with The Philadelphia Inquirer, McGinty addressed questions about the Buzzfeed report.

“Our family story here is one that we’re proud of, and that is that as the ninth of 10 kids in our family I was the first who right out of high school was able to go to four-year college . it was a big moment in our family’s life,” McGinty said. “It just brings home to me that every kid needs to have a shot at affordable education and it’s an essential piece of who I am.”

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This story has been updated to show that the McGinty campaign’s statements were Thursday, not Wednesday, and the Buzzfeed story was posted Wednesday, not Tuesday.

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