York County Prothonotary Pam Lee said he looked "more real" in real life, and perhaps a little younger.

She'd only ever seen U.S. senatorial candidate Tom Smith on television, but there he was, in her office and shaking her hand.

Smith, who took a tour of the county's row offices Monday, cited the 14 pounds he's lost since he has been unable to eat his wife's cooking while on the campaign trail.

The Armstrong County conservative Republican surprised Lee and other county officials with impromptu visits led by York County Commissioner Chris Reilly, a political ally.

Name recognition: Smith said it was a good chance to get his name out there, something that's been a challenge as he vies for the seat held by incumbent first-term Democrat Bob Casey Jr. Unlike his opponent, whose father and namesake is a former two-term governor, Smith said he doesn't have a famous political name.

Smith calls himself a "citizen candidate," a businessman who started a series of coal-related companies that he sold in 2010.

A father of seven, he's running on a platform of instituting a flat tax, cutting federal spending and reducing business regulations.

He said his core message is especially relevant to Yorkers because they, like other people across the state, care most about jobs and their families.

Attention: Smith has been trailing Casey in the polls, with his campaign thus far garnering the most attention after an apparent gaffe in which he, while explaining his views on abortion, compared out-of-wedlock pregnancy to pregnancy after rape.

But the Republican was upbeat Monday, touting recent polls that showed Casey leading by a narrower margin. The latest poll from Rasmussen Reports showed Smith behind Casey 49 percent to 42 percent.

"The polls are closing," he told Reilly before they departed on the tour. "We've got this closed to within single digits."

The tour included stops at the offices of the county treasurer, recorder of deeds, register of wills and district attorney.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.