Trump takes jabs at Bi­den in Penn­syl­va­nia

Chicago Sun-Times - - OBITUARIES - BY JONATHAN LEMIRE

OLD FORGE, Pa. — 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.

The cam­paign framed Trump’s speech as a re­view of “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 mid­dle­class up­bring­ing.

Bi­den was born in Scran­ton but his fam­ily moved to Delaware when he 10. His fa­ther, Joe Sr., was once a sales man­ager at a car deal­er­ship in Scran­ton, but quit when he thought the owner was try­ing to hu­mil­i­ate em­ploy­ees dur­ing a Christ­mas party. The fam­ily even­tu­ally moved to Delaware, where Joe Sr. found work.

“He’ll re­mind us that he was born in Scran­ton, but you know he left like 70 years ago, right?” Trump said.

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 a mere 44,000 votes four years ago and has since clashed with the state’s Demo­cratic gov­er­nor over ef­forts to re­open its econ­omy.

Many in the Trump cam­paign have all but writ­ten off Michi­gan, a state bat­tered by the virus, and whose gov­er­nor has re­peat­edly fought with the pres­i­dent. But ad­vis­ers be­lieve Penn­syl­va­nia, like Wis­con­sin, re­mains in play and could be cap­tured again if the econ­omy con­tin­ues to re­bound.

Trump re­turned to north­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, where he did un­ex­pect­edly well in 2016. He said he’s best suited to re­turn the coun­try back to its pre-pan­demic sta­tus.

“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.

BREN­DAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP VIA GETTY IM­AGES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump picks up a pizza at Ar­caro and Genell in Old Forge, Penn­syl­va­nia, dur­ing a cam­paign stop on Thurs­day.

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