Trump predicts victory in Pa. visit
MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – President Donald Trump predicted Tuesday that in 42 days, he will repeat his performance of 2016 and win Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.
“I’m all for fracking,” he told the crowd.” My opponent is against oil, guns and God.”
The Republican incumbent in the Nov. 3 election is facing Scranton, Pa., native Joe Biden, a Roman Catholic and the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party, a frequent target of his 95-minute campaign speech at a packed outdoor gathering in front of a private airplane hangar.
“I don’t think of him as a radical lefty, but basically, he’s controlled by them,” Trump said of Biden, claiming he’s accomplished more in 47 months as president than Biden, former vice president under President Barack Obama and U.S. senator from Delaware, has in 47 years. The president also made a point of mispronouncing the first name of Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris.
Using the same refrain a few minutes later, Trump talked of churches being closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and referenced Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who was roundly booed.
Wolf has not ordered houses of worship shuttered, but limited the size of gatherings in general. Court battles are still under way, and Wolf was rebuked last week by a Trump-appointed federal judge for acting unconstitutionally.
Trump made much of his 300 appointments to the federal judiciary, highlighting one development in particular:
He thanked Utah Sen. Mitt Romney for announcing his support of a vote in that chamber for a replacement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.
The president plans to nominate his third candidate for the nation’s highest court.
“They will set policy for 50 years,” he said.
Romney broke with Republican colleagues by supporting one impeachment count, a move that resulted in the U.S. Senate trial in January.
“Oh, did you hear today?” Trump asked. “They want to impeach me again” to delay a vote on the Supreme Court appointment, citing Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and calling her “Crazy Nancy.”
“I got impeached by making a perfect phone call,” he said of the charge that he solicited interference from Ukraine to help his reelection bid.
Trump carried Western Pennsylvania counties — save Allegheny — in 2016, and he hopes to do it again in the Nov. 3 election despite an unemployment rate hovering around 10% in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in more than 8,000 deaths in the Keystone State.
“They let the plague out of China,” he said, claiming he has “saved millions of lives” but not mentioning the American death toll has just reached the 200,000 mark, the most of any country, but said, “I am devastated to see it happening. Now Europe has a big spike.”
“It’s the China virus,” he said. “They should have stopped it.” The president said all Biden wants to talk about is the coronavirus.
Trump told his enthusiastic supporters, “We will ban deadly sanctuary cities and uphold the sanctity of life.”
Among the sea of thousands of attendees, with masked faces here and there, Fayette County Sheriff James Custer went to his second Trump rally this month after taking part in a similar event held at the Arnold Palmer Airport in Latrobe, Westmoreland County.
Due to the retirement of his predecessor, Custer, a Republican, along with Trump, were both on the ballot in 2016. That won’t be the case in November because Custer was elected to a four-year term in last year’s off-year election cycle.
During this term, he has seen the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Law and order has been a recurrent theme of Trump’s campaign since the death of Floyd was captured on video, and Custer was among a group of uniformed sheriffs from Western Pennsylvania.
Custer said, “I believe Black lives matter; I believe all lives matter,” and noted Fayette County has been the scene of four protests.
“Everyone was peaceful, everyone was respectful. They protested, they got their message across,” he said of gatherings in Uniontown and Brownsville.
He perceives Marxism in demonstrations that have erupted in the U.S., but declined to equate Marxists with Democrats.
“I can’t speak to every one. I can’t have the stats for that, but the party as a whole is going in that direction.”
Mary Hunt of Steubenville, Ohio, a lifelong Republican, got in line for the campaign rally at 4 p.m. with a ticket she thought would get her a seat, but she was standing three and a half hours later.
As manager of an apartment building, she said, “I have people that aren’t able to pay rent because of the corona,” but said of Trump, “I think he’s doing a very good job. It’s really hard for him, being under attack.”
Nate Nevala of California, aide to 14th District U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Peters Township), gave the invocation, asking that Americans “rise above partisan politics” and seek God’s will in reconciliation.
He was met with cheers when he prayed for wisdom for Trump “to choose the next Supreme Court justice” after Ginsburg’s death.
The president is expected to announce a nominee this weekend.