DONALD TRUMP – The president is working to build support in previously won states, most notably in the Rust Belt – in the hopes of regaining that same support just eight days away.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP barnstormed the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Monday, trying to see Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s views on the energy sector in the closing days of the 2020 campaign as “an economic death sentence.”
At three outdoor gatherings in Allentown, Lititz, and Martinsburg, Trump delivered his speech to the power-producing state he narrowly won four years earlier that he’ll preserve the oil industry and practice of hydraulic fracturing. He also hammered on Biden about his previous support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, trying to reach voters in a state where production has declined, in part due to the outsourcing of jobs to the United States.
Pennsylvania is crucial to the president, who appears to have a tighter path to the White House than Biden. Trump scored a 2016 election state victory of less than 1 percentage point, but most public polls show him falling behind Biden as November 3 approaches. The president is now struggling to bolster his support in the states he had previously won, most notably in the Rust Belt – in the hopes of regaining that same support in eight days.
In the past few days, Trump has been aligning his message with energy-dependent states and states that have lost significant manufacturing jobs over the past few decades. The president has deceptively claimed that Biden wants to “abolish the whole oil industry,” challenging the Democratic candidate for saying he wants to “switch” to renewables over the next few decades. Biden’s plan includes an end to federal subsidies for oil companies, and he insisted his administration would not ban hydraulic fracturing – only eliminating new fracking permits on public lands.
“Biden’s plan is an economic death sentence for Pennsylvania’s energy sector,” Trump said during his rally in Allentown on Monday afternoon. “He will eradicate your energy and send Pennsylvania into a crippling depression.”
At each of its rallies, the Trump campaign played a video on the big screen in the venue with Biden’s clips discussing his previous support for NAFTA, his stance on fracking, and the transition to other energies and last comments downplaying China as a competitor to the United States.
Trump also played a moment in last week’s latest presidential debate. Biden said he “would switch from the oil industry,” causing some moderate Democrats representing oil-producing states from the former vice president. Trump replied, “This is a great statement” and called on voters in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Texas to “remember” his words. But Biden and his allies have repeatedly said that electric fracking will still exist if the White House wins.
In addition to focusing on energy and trade, Trump’s protests have been based on the president’s most significant accomplishments: recounting his 2016 victory, ticking through selective polls that have him ahead, and attacking his former opponent, Hillary Clinton. It also downplayed the severity of the pandemic that infected more than 8.6 Americans with a death toll of more than 225,000. Trump spoke of his diagnosis and that of his family as an example of how Americans can defeat the virus without mentioning the thousands of people who have lasting symptoms.
Biden and his allies have also turned much of their attention to Pennsylvania in recent weeks, hoping to take advantage of the Democratic candidate’s connection to the state since his birth in Scranton. Former President Barack Obama recently held a drive-thru rally in Philadelphia. The former Vice President has regularly visited the country, especially during the pandemic, as it is a short trip to his domicile in Delaware.
Biden also traveled to Pennsylvania on Monday with a more intimate campaign stop in Delaware County. He used part of that event to denounce the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic again, picking up on recent comments from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadow that “we will not control the pandemic.”
“What in the hell is the matter with this man?” Biden said Monday. “I’m not going to give up. I don’t know what we’ll inherit on Jan. 21st, but at the rate, he’s going it’s not going to be good.”