President Donald Trump on Thursday refined the law and order message he plans to spread against his Democratic rival Joe Biden over the next two months and stepped up the attacks his campaign believes will resonate with battlefield nation voters Find.
"Biden's plan is to appease the domestic terrorists and my plan is to arrest and prosecute them," Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania – a state that turned in its favor in 2016 and its path to victory paved.
The rally comes as Trump's campaign shows new signs of momentum, including the long-standing democratic stronghold that Trump won with less than 45,000 votes in 2016. After months of concern, Trump campaign officials over the past few weeks have felt encouraged to respond to mass demonstrations against racial injustice by taking a tough line against protesters and calling Biden weak.
Trump spoke to a crowd of hundreds housed in an airport hangar where people stood close together and few wore masks, despite the ongoing pandemic that has now killed more than 185,000 people and infected more than 6 million nationwide.
Pennsylvania is currently restricting indoor gatherings to 25 people and outdoor events to 250 people to help keep the coronavirus from spreading. But Trump has disregarded both local restrictions and his own administration's guidelines on social distancing when he insists on advertising in front of large crowds and tries to project the image that the virus is waning as he looks to reopen the economy urges.
Trump told the crowd that he was "anything for" wearing masks and urged them to be careful this upcoming Labor Day weekend. White House and public health officials have been watching the date cautiously, fearing it could lead to another spike in cases like Memorial Day weekend.
"There is a tendency for people to be a little negligent about the public health measures that we keep recommending," said Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday told MSNBC asking for due diligence in adhering to security measures going on vacation. Fauci is the government's leading infectious disease expert
At the same time, Trump, who rarely wore a mask, mocked Biden for wearing one so often.
"Have you ever seen a man who likes a mask as much as he does?" he asked, proclaiming that "it makes him feel safe."
"If I were a psychiatrist, you know I would say," This guy has some big problems. "Hang it up," he said.
The rally took place the same day Biden visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid the turmoil after police shot seven times at Jacob Blake, a black man. Trump mocked Biden for visiting two days later, claiming, “Nobody was there. He was a little late. I wanted to say, "Hey, listen, we ended this problem."
Trump's campaign believes his efforts to label Biden as a low-crime group will help Trump win back suburban voters, and women in particular, who supported him in 2016 but have pissed him off since then.
That includes Pennsylvania, where the president is in a better position than in 2016, citing the Democrats' shrinking advantage in voter registration. This time around, they believe their turnout will lead to better turnout among rural working class voters and better margins among African Americans, Latinos and union supporters. At the rally, Trump announced that he had received confirmation from Boilermaker Local 154 in Pittsburgh.
To this end, Trump and his team have made frequent visits to the state for excitement. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence hosted a Workers for Trump rally at a construction company less than 15 miles from Biden's hometown of Scranton.
"I know we're not too far from our opponent's youth home, but now it's Trump land," Pence told the crowd.
Trump himself hosted a small rally outside Scranton last month, just hours before Biden accepted the Democratic president nomination. At the event, Trump insisted that Biden would be the state's "worst nightmare" if elected president. The former vice president often casts light on his early years in the northeastern Pennsylvania city as evidence of his civic upbringing.
"Between the record craze for this president, our unprecedented ground game and trends in Republican voter registration, the Commonwealth is ready to deliver for President Trump again in November," Nick Trainer, director of battlefield strategies for the Trump campaign, said in a statement.
Biden's campaign remains equally confident about his prospects in the state. They put great emphasis on the metropolitan area of Pittsburgh, where the Democrats lost ground in 2016, but then watched Democratic Congress candidate Conor Lamb cause a stir in a special election.
Still, Biden's path in Pennsylvania is viewed as more complicated than reclaiming Wisconsin and Michigan, the other two “blue wall” states that Trump won by less than 1 percentage point four years ago.
In Wisconsin and Michigan, Trump benefited from the poor performance of then rival Hillary Clinton in the largest, highly democratic cities of Milwaukee and Detroit. But Clinton did relatively well in Philadelphia, gaining more votes than former President Barack Obama in the Philadelphia suburbs, even when defeated. This could put even more pressure on Biden to hurt Trump's performance in Pennsylvania's smaller towns and in rural areas.
Latrobe, home of Trump's rally on Thursday, is about an hour outside of Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County, which Trump won by a large margin four years ago.
While Democrats still have a significant advantage in registering voters in the state, the number of Republican enrollments has far exceeded the number of new Democrats registering this cycle. Many political observers believe that the state, which has many white, senior voters, could become even cheaper for Republicans, despite democratically voting from 1992 until Trump's victory in 2016.
Miller reported from Washington. Atlanta associate press writer Bill Barrow contributed to this report.