MONTOURSVILLE, Pa. — President Donald Trump on Monday told supporters that he’s “got to win” Pennsylvania in 2020, and took specific aim at former Vice President Joe Biden, a native of the state who could threaten his prospects here.
“I’ll be seeing a lot of you over the next year. I’ll be here a lot,” Trump told an audience of thousands at a local airport hangar. “Got to win this state. We’ve got to win this state. We did great last time.”
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Trump narrowly carried Pennsylvania in 2016, but recent polling by the Trump campaign has shown Trump trailing in the state to Biden, who was born here and represented neighboring Delaware as a U.S. senator.
Betraying anxiety about Biden’s standing here, Trump sought to undermine Biden’s local credentials. Biden was born in Scranton in 1942, but his family moved from the state in 1953.
“He’s not from Pennsylvania,” Trump said. “I guess he was born here, but he left you folks. He left you for another state. Remember that, please….He left you for another state, and he didn’t take care of you, because he didn’t take care of your jobs. He let other countries come in and rip off America. That doesn’t happen anymore.”
Trump also said that foreign leaders who have urged the former vice president to run merely want to take advantage of him.
“Sleepy Joe says he’s running to save the world,” he said. “He’s going to save every country but ours.”
The rally, in an especially pro-Trump pocket of one of three of Rust Belt states that carried him to victory in 2016 came after a day of setbacks in Trump’s fight against congressional Democrats investigating him. But Trump barely made a reference to them or special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into interference in the 2016 election.
Thousands of people turned out for the rally at the airport hangar, some arriving 10 hours earlier to get a spot. At least three people collapsed from the heat, with others leaving early to get some fresh air.
Trump was joined by his son, Donald Trump Jr, who spoke before his father arrived. When Trump mentioned him, people in the crowd began to yell “2024!”
The president spoke while campaigning for Fred Keller, who is running against Democrat Marc Friedenberg in a special congressional election for Pennsylvania’s 12th District being held Tuesday.
Republican Rep. Tom Marino, who represented the district, resigned shortly after the new session started.
But the star of the show was undoubtedly Trump. As usual, he described his win in 2016, which caused the crowd to beak out in a familiar chant of “lock her up!” referring to his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Trump praised Keller, who told the cheering crowd his election was necessary to help Trump win again in 2020. Trump called the special election a “referendum” on his presidency.
Trump spoke glowingly of the size of the audience, saying, “It looks like the Academy Awards used to look before they decided to go political against us.”
The president’s aides are scrambling to fire up support in the state as well as in Wisconsin and Michigan — two other swing states that supported Trump in 2016.
Trump otherwise stuck with his favorite talking points during the rally, touching on health care, the Iran nuclear deal and immigration.
Just last week, Trump introduced a new immigrant proposal that he called pro-immigrant because it welcomes high-educated and high-skilled workers to the country.
But at his rally, Trump reverted back to his former talking points on immigration. “Our country is full,” he said. “We don’t want more people here. Our country is full.”
He urged people to get out and vote so he could get legislation passed.
“I must tell you some of it’s not going to happen unless you vote for Republicans in the upcoming election,” he said. “And I will tell you it’s not very far away.”