(Headline USA) Determined to keep Pennsylvania in his column, President Donald Trump took the fight to Joe Biden‘s old backyard Thursday and insisted his Democratic rival would be the state’s “worst nightmare” if elected president.
In a particularly in-your-face bit of campaign trolling, Trump staged a small rally just outside the former vice president’s birthplace in Scranton mere hours before Biden was to formally accept the Democratic presidential nomination.
Trump’s speech reviewed “a half-century of Joe Biden failing America,” and the location pointed to the importance of Pennsylvania as a battleground state.
“Joe Biden is no friend of Pennsylvania — he is your worst nightmare,” Trump declared.
Trump sought to diminish Biden’s ties to Scranton. The former vice president often spotlights his early years in the northeast Pennsylvania city as evidence of his middle-class upbringing.
Biden was born in Scranton but his family moved to Delaware when he 10.
“He’ll remind us that he was born in Scranton, but you know he left like 70 years ago, right?” Trump said.
Biden’s speech came hours later from his Delaware hometown and, as the culmination of the four-day convention, will surely dominate headlines and cable news chyrons. But Trump has offered a robust slate of competing activity, holding multiple in-person events this week meant to draw a contrast with the largely virtual campaign Biden has conducted during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump visited two other battlegrounds — Wisconsin and Arizona — as well as Minnesota, one of the few blue states from 2016 that Trump’s team feels like he may have a chance to flip this fall. Trump planned more convention counterprogramming Thursday evening with an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel show just before Biden is to deliver his acceptance speech.
The so-called Blue Wall of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, meant to provide Electoral College insurance for Hillary Clinton, instead all broke for Trump by slim margins in 2016. He captured Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes four years ago and has since clashed with the state’s Democratic governor over efforts to reopen its economy.
Trump returned to northeastern Pennsylvania, where he did unexpectedly well in 2016, winning Luzerne County and nearly winning in Lackawanna County, both of which have a solid registration advantage for Democrats.
The number of GOP registrations in Pennsylvania has outpaced Democrats this cycle and many political observers believe the state, which has many white, older voters, could become stronger for Republicans.
To that end, Trump portrays Biden as out of touch with more moderate and conservative parts of the state, making the argument that Biden is a “puppet of the radical left,” considering the Democrat nominee’s embrace of extreme policies like the Green New Deal.
Trump said he’s best suited to return the country back to its pre-pandemic status, when unemployment stood at the lowest rates since the early 1960s and the economy was experiencing moderate growth. He said a Biden win in November would usher in economic pain for Americans and more chaos in U.S. cities that have endured violent protests in recent months, which Democrats across the board failed to decry during their convention.
“If you want a vision of your life under a Joe Biden presidency, imagine the smoldering ruins of Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland and the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago coming to every city and town in America,” Trump said.
Trump also took aim Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, accusing him of slowing the reopening of the state’s economy to hurt the president’s reelection chances. Trump charged the Democratic governors of Michigan and North Carolina — two other battleground states — are employing similar tactics.
“Shut down Wolf,” Trump complained. “You can’t do this. He’s gonna destroy your soul.”
The outdoor rally drew a few hundred supporters.
The Biden campaign dismissed Trump’s visit as a lame campaign gambit.
“This sideshow is a pathetic attempt to distract from the fact that Trump’s presidency stands for nothing but crises, lies and division,” said Biden spokesman Andrew Bates.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.