President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump campaigned on opposite sides of Pennsylvania on Saturday, offering a preview their potential revenge in 2024 as they made a final push for their parties’ respective Senate and gubernatorial candidates in a key battleground in 2022.
The Commonwealth, which offers Democrats their best shot at a seat that could help them retain control of the US Senate, has gone from backing Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020. But anger over inflation, coupled with the Economic uncertainty for voters across the nation has created an even tougher climate for Democrats facing historic hardship this year as the White House party often faces steep losses in Congress in the first half of the year. a new administration.
Democrats — including Biden and former President Barack Obama, who joined him on the trail in Philadelphia on Saturday — end the campaign by saying Republicans have no intention of easing the brunt of inflation , saying they could also jeopardize Social Security and Medicare. like the base tenants of democracy because of their blind loyalty to Trump.
Biden’s approval ratings are underwater, meaning Pennsylvania is one of the few places the Scranton native has appeared with a Senate candidate in a hotly contested race. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, running against Trump’s handpicked nominee in Mehmet Oz, is trying to win the Senate seat vacated by GOP Sen. Pat Toomey. Democrats, who control the Senate 50-50 due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ deciding vote, are struggling to defend seats in Nevada, Georgia and Arizona. Republicans need a single-seat net gain to claim a majority, so Democrats are hoping a win in Pennsylvania could cushion their side’s losses in those other states.
After strolling onstage with Obama, Biden needled his former — and possibly future — rival by telling the raucous crowd they could be heard all the way through Latrobe, where Trump appeared two hours later with Oz. and GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, a Holocaust denier who was at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“Your right to choose is on the ballot. Your right to vote is listed on the ballot. Social Security and Medicare are in the ballot,” Biden said at the Liacouras Center on the Temple University campus in North Philadelphia.
He noted that his goal when he ran for president was to “build an economy from the bottom up and down the middle”, which he described as a “fundamental shift, from Oz and the mega Republican spinoff economics MAGA”.
“It’s not your father’s Republican party,” the president added. “It’s a different breed of cat. I really mean it. Look, they’re all about the richest getting rich. And the richest staying rich. The middle class is stiffening. The poor are getting poorer under their politics.
Appearing after Biden, Fetterman called out Oz for appearing with Trump at a rally stage — “a real exercise in moderation,” he quipped — as he sought to remind Pennsylvanians of how Trump stoked conspiracy theories that had prompted the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.
He added that “inflation has hurt working families in Pennsylvania, but you need a senator who really understands what that really means,” pointing to the wealth of Oz to say he’s not familiar with the pain of higher prices.
Trump campaigned for Oz in Latrobe days after teasing a 2024 race in Iowa where he told the crowd he was “very, very, very likely” to fight for the White House again.
While Trump’s presence in western Pennsylvania may help Oz shore up grassroots GOP voters, it could also complicate his final appeals to the moderates and independents the GOP Senate nominee needs to secure victory. — voters who have been alienated by Trump during his presidency. Speaking to Trump at the rally, Oz did not mention the former president — a telling move given that Trump-backed candidates often praise the former president at his events.
It was an indication of how Trump’s visit could do more for himself than for Oz as Trump tries to anticipate his own plans. His aides are eyeing the third week of November for a potential announcement if Republicans are successful in next week’s midterm elections, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Much of Trump’s speech focused on his own accomplishments, grievances and debunked conspiracy theories about voter fraud in the 2020 election. He called Oz “a good man” who could help topple “a country in decline”.
“It could be the vote that’s going to make the difference between a country and not a country,” Trump said in his campaign for Oz. “It could be 51, it could be 50,” he said of the balance of power in the Senate. If it’s “49 for Republicans, this country – I don’t know if it’s going to live another two years.”
But Trump also spent part of the Latrobe rally rolling out the latest polling numbers he had seen for his potential rematch with Biden in 2024 in swing states (and even a number of red states).
Not all Republicans are happy to have the former president on the trail in the final stretch of midterms. Former New York Governor George Pataki noted on CNN’s “Newsroom” on Saturday that the inflated attention that Trump’s potential 2024 run is edging so close to Election Day hasn’t helped. GOP candidates running in blue states – including New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, who is challenging Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul in a surprisingly close race.
“It’s a classic Trump that it has to be about him. It’s not about him,” Pataki told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “It’s about the future of our states, about the future of America, and I cringe when he does everything he can to get publicity.”
While Trump may cause headaches for some GOP candidates, it was Obama — rather than Biden — who was the Democrats’ most powerful messenger in the final days of the midterm election.
Campaigning with Fetterman and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro, Obama hammered home his dual message that election-denying Republicans like Mastriano could put democracy at risk in 2024, as he accused Republicans of having no plan to help American families meet their expenses.
He tried to draw a particular contrast between Oz and Fetterman on that front, attacking the famed surgeon’s career on TV. “If someone is willing to peddle snake oil to make money, then they’re probably willing to sell snake oil to get elected,” Obama said in Pittsburgh. Later in Philadelphia, he described Fetterman as “a guy who fought for ordinary people his whole life”.
To galvanize young people and other not-so-reliable voters in a midterm year in Philadelphia — where Democrats must up the ante to win in Pennsylvania — Obama reflected on his own midterm setbacks. , telling the crowd he wanted to “offer a history lesson” based on his party’s losses in 2010 and 2014.
“Sometimes I can’t help but imagine what it would have been like if enough people had voted in those elections,” Obama said. “Imagine if we had been able to fix our broken immigration system in 2011. Imagine if we had been able to pass meaningful gun safety legislation back then to prevent more deaths. Imagine if we could have reduced our emissions even more than we did. We would be further ahead in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. If we had kept the Senate in 2014, we would have a very different Supreme Court ruling on our most basic rights. So mid-terms are no joke.
Earlier in Pittsburgh, Obama noted that some Republicans are already talking about impeaching Biden if they win a majority. “How will this help you pay your bills?” He asked.
While Obama was able to cross the country campaigning in competitive states like Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin, disappointment with Biden continued to be a drag on the most vulnerable Democrats and limited his appearances.
And comments he made in California on Friday, in which he suggested coal plants across the country should be shut down, did not sit well outside the blue state. He received a swift rebuke from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a moderate in the Senate, while Republicans argued his comments would be unhelpful to Democrats in coal-producing states like Pennsylvania.
Manchin said in a statement that Biden’s comments were “not only outrageous and divorced from reality, they ignore the severe economic pain the American people are feeling from rising energy costs.”
Trump also tried to capitalize on the moment during his rally in Pennsylvania. “Biden has resumed the war on coal – your coal. Yesterday he said we were going to shut down coal plants across America. Can you believe that? In favor of very unreliable wind and solar which have cost us a fortune. The most expensive energy you could have – an outrageous slap in the face in Pennsylvania coal country.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Saturday that Biden’s remarks had been “twisted” to “suggest meaning that was not intended; he regrets it if anyone who heard these remarks was offended.