Nov 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

3 presidents target Pennsylvania for 2022 closing arguments

Photos: Win McNamee via Getty Images; Mark Makela/AFP via Getty images

President Biden and former President Trump held dueling rallies on opposite ends of Pennsylvania on Saturday, in the final stretch of the midterm campaign.

Why it matters: Pennsylvania's Senate race is likely the bellwether race that will determine which party wins the majority. The late-campaign rallies are designed to juice up base turnout on both sides, as both Biden and Trump hold low favorability ratings in the Keystone State.

  • At a packed rally at Temple University in Philadelphia, Biden served as the warm-up act for the Democratic gubernatorial and Senate nominees, Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman.
  • Headlining the event, former President Obama served as the closing speaker for the raucous crowd. It was the first time the two had shared a campaign stage during the Biden presidency, AP reports.
  • A couple hours later in western Pennsylvania, Trump dwelt on his personal grievances against the FBI, election administrators and the media while making the case against the leftward drift of the Democratic Party.

Fetterman and Shapiro have been reticent to campaign with Biden, given his low approval ratings in the state. But they rallied together in the final rally, one of the only big rallies the president has held in a traditional swing state.

  • Republican Senate nominee Mehmet Oz has been keeping his distance from Trump since winning the primary, and has avoided joint appearances with right-wing gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano. But he appeared with both at Saturday's rally, an acknowledgment that he needs to both win over MAGA voters and moderate suburbanites to prevail in the swing state.

Details: Biden began his remarks in Philadelphia hinting at the competing rally being held by Trump across the state. "This crowd is so loud, I think they can hear us in Latrobe," he said.

  • Biden served up some red meat to the raucous crowd, declaring Trump a “defeated president,” castigating “MAGA Republicans” and needling Oz for his long-time New Jersey residency. “I’ve lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz lived in Pennsylvania,” Biden said.
  • “Your right to choose is on the ballot. Your right to vote is on the ballot,” Biden added.

The other side: Trump focused on the issue of border security and crime in his opening remarks.

  • "If you support the decline and fall of America, then you must vote for the radical left Democrats. If you want to stop the direction of our country and save the American dream, you must vote Republican in a giant red wave," Trump opened up the rally.
  • In addition to his personal grievances, he focused predominantly on border security and crime in his speech. "There is no more urgent task for the future of our country than to stop the invasion on our southern border," Trump said.
  • "If we're going to make America great again, we're going to have to make America safe again. Under the radical, crazy Democrats, the streets of our cities are ruled by bloodthirsty gangs and violent criminals. You know that. You've seen what's going on. I've never seen anything like it."

The bottom line: Trump impressed on the Oz campaign the importance of the MAGA movement for his victory. "If you have these people vote, Oz, they can't lose," Trump said.

  • But in a sign of how delicately Oz needs to thread the needle between the hardcore Trump supporters and suburban moderates, the Republican is headed to Bucks County Sunday to campaign with two of the leading moderate Republicans in Congress, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).
  • Collins voted for Trump's impeachment last year.
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