Trump in Pa.: 5 takeaways from the president's visit to Biden's hometown
Before Joe Biden's speech at the Democratic National Convention, President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend an event just outside Biden's hometown. Wochit
President Donald J. Trump on Thursday made a campaign stop in northeast Pennsylvania to slam his political rival and appeal to a working-class voting bloc analysts say he will need to win reelection.
Trump spoke for about an hour in the lumber yard of Mariotti Building Products in Old Forge, about 10 miles from Democratic challenger Joe Biden's hometown of Scranton.
His visit to battleground Pennsylvania came on the same day Biden formally accepted his party's presidential nomination.
Here are five, quick takeaways from Trump's visit to Pennsylvania:
Winning the working class
One of Trump's biggest messages Thursday was printed on three large signs hanging on the wall behind him: “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!”
Before the coronavirus hit, the economy added nearly 7 million jobs during the first three years of the Trump presidency.
The president said he created a strong economy before the pandemic spread across the U.S., bringing back manufacturing jobs he said were taken away while Biden was a senator and vice president.
Trump said he will create “10 million jobs” in the next year if he is reelected.
"We will hire more police," he said.
Biden "spent the last half century in Washington selling out our country and ripping off our jobs,” Trump said.
Biden surrogate and fellow Scranton native Sen. Bob Casey said Trump is asking to be re-hired as the country faces the worst unemployment numbers since the Great Depression.
"At this moment, 821,000 Pennsylvanians are unemployed," Casey said.
What he didn't say about COVID-19
The president didn't address the state's unemployment numbers or the pandemic that has sickened more than 5 million Americans and killed more than 170,000.
He did not share a plan for getting people back to work or stopping the spread of COVID-19.
He referred to the coronavirus four times, calling it a pandemic, a horrible plague from China and the China virus.
Trump mostly talked about Biden and Democrats. But when he did talk about COVID-19, he discussed it in economic terms.
"By the way, the stock market just hit a new high," Trump said. "And don’t forget, we’ve been going through this horrible plague from China. It just hit a new high. So think of that. It’s incredible."
"Before the China virus invaded our shores, we built the greatest economy in history, nothing even close," Trump added later.
"In three years, and what we’ve done in just this short period of time, there’s been no administration that’s accomplished what we’ve accomplished, and that’s despite pandemics and despite all of the opposition and all of the witch hunts, the phony witch hunts," Trump said.
Gov. Wolf gets a nickname
Since Trump ran for office in 2015, he's been giving nicknames to his opponents.
Now, he's added Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to the list with "Shutdown Wolf."
"What is he doing? He’s got you in a shutdown, still. Shutdown Wolf," Trump said. "He can’t do this. He’s going to destroy your soul. What happens is depression, anxiety problems with family members, drugs, heart attacks, obesity. I mean, what is he doing? It’s more dangerous than the virus."
But Trump did seem to agree with Wolf on one thing: it's important to wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Do the masks," the president said. "I mean, it's not gonna hurt. Do 'em. Do 'em."
What's at stake
Democrats have been saying all week at the Democratic National Convention to vote this year "like your lives and democracy depend on it," at times calling Trump the most dangerous president in American history.
Trump spoke with a similar urgency on Thursday.
After claiming that Democrats don't want people to say "God," Trump said, "They’re coming to get you."
"And me, we, we’re the wall between the American dream and total insanity, and the destruction of the greatest country in the history of the world," Trump said. "We’re all that stands. We’re all that stands, and a typical Republican probably wouldn’t get there but I think I’m very Republican in many ways, but your typical Republican would not be able to win."
The president told his crowd of supporters the only thing standing between their families and the "radical left wing mob" was their vote in November.
"If you want mobs and criminals, you got to vote Democrat," Trump said. "If you want jobs and cops, vote Republican."
He also said Biden would "confiscate your guns" and open the borders, which he accused Hillary Clinton of doing in 2016.
"These same liberal hypocrites want to open up borders and let violent mobs rule the streets while they live in Waldorf compounds in communities," Trump said. "They want to defund police while hiring private security. They want to let rioters burn churches while jailing you for praying in your church. They want to abolish school choice while sending their children to the best private schools in the land. They want to cancel you. Totally cancel you. Take your job, turn your family against you for speaking your mind, while they indoctrinate your children with twisted, twisted, worldviews that nobody ever thought possible."
The president also repeated his claim that the only way he will lose is if the election is rigged, and he again raised concerns about mail-in voting.
"So this is just a way they’re trying to steal the election, and everybody knows that," Trump said. "Because the only way they’re going to win is by a rigged election. I really believe that."
Sticking to what worked in 2016
Trump focused on blue-collar, battleground states to lead an upset victory in 2016.
He won Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes and was the first Republican presidential nominee to win the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
His winning strategy included a focus on jobs, immigration, attacking his opponents, opposing gun control and questioning the integrity of the election.
“They want to take away your guns," Trump said. "So who’s going to vote for that?”
The crowd said "no" and booed.
In 2016, he said the election was rigged. He won.
He's saying it's rigged again, with about 70 days to go until Election Day.
In 2016, he called his opponent "Crooked Hillary" and held rallies where supporters chanted, "Lock her up!"
This year, he's calling his opponent "Slow Joe" and "Sleepy Joe."
In Pennsylvania on Thursday, he also took aim at Biden's running mate, the first African-American and Indian woman on a presidential ticket.
He said Kamala Harris at least three times and mispronounced her first name all three times.
And his strategy seems to be working again as he campaigns for a second term.
A month ago, Trump was trailing Biden by about 10 points.
By Thursday, Biden's lead in battleground states had dwindled to 4 points — within the margin of error, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls.
"We’re going to have the biggest victory," Trump said. "We’re going to have a victory that will equal or surpass what we did in 2016."
Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at 717-480-1783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.