A maskless Donald Trump expressed the importance of wearing face covers in front of a crowded, unsocially distant crowd during a rally in Pennsylvania Thursday during which the President also admonished Joe Biden to be a "puppet" of domestic terrorists.
While polls insist that the November presidential election will likely turn out to be a "customs game", Trump reassured a cheering crowd that gathered at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe that Biden "falls like a stone into the water."
Trump attributed the Democratic candidate's apparent inevitable demise to the idea that Biden's plan & # 39;is to appease the domestic terrorists and my plan is to arrest and prosecute them. & # 39;
He accused the former vice president of "being a puppet of the socialist, Marxist, and cop-hating extremists" – a comment that was greeted with enthusiastic applause by the crowd.
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 felt encouraged over the past few weeks as Trump responded to mass demonstrations against racial injustice by taking a tough line against protesters, calling Biden weak.
President Donald Trump on Thursday clarified the message of law and order he wants to spread against his Democratic rival Joe Biden
Air Force One lands in cheers before President Donald Trump attends a campaign rally at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
The rally at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport takes place as Trump's campaign shows new signs of momentum, including the long-standing democratic stronghold that Trump won in 2016 with less than 45,000 votes
Trump spoke to a crowd of hundreds housed in an airport hangar where people stood close together and few wore masks
After months of concern, Trump campaign officials felt encouraged over the past few weeks as Trump responded to mass demonstrations against racial injustice by taking a tough line against protesters, calling Biden weak
Trump defended his response to the coronavirus during the rally, but spent much less time discussing the pandemic or the economic hardship it caused across the country than other issues.
"Before the coronavirus, that election was over," Trump told the loud crowd, claiming he could have canceled the campaign this year if the virus hadn't hit the country as hard as it did. "We're rounding this curve," he said.
The President spoke to a crowd of hundreds housed in an airport hangar where people stood close together and wore very little face-covering.
Pennsylvania is currently limiting 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 pushes the economy to open again.
Trump told the crowd that he was "all for" wearing masks and urged them to be careful this coming Labor Day weekend. He told them to keep their distance and wash their hands regularly, "things like that".
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, hypothesizing that the former Vice President occasionally puts a mask on one ear because it "gives him a sense of security".
"If I were a psychiatrist, you know I would say," This guy has some big problems. "Hang it down. Hang it up," he said.
Trump told the crowd that he was "all for" wearing masks and urged them to be careful this coming Labor Day weekend
Supporters of US President Donald Trump cheer during a campaign rally at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
The rally took place the same day Biden was visiting Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police shot Jacob Blake
In Pennsylvania, Biden has a 4 point lead over Trump in registered voters and a 1 to 3 point lead in likely voters, according to a Monmouth University poll this week. Patrick Murray, poll director, described the race as a "customs game" for USA Today.
The rally took place the same day that Biden was visiting Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police shot and killed Jacob Blake, a black man who was shot seven times in the back by police.
Trump mocked Biden for visiting town two days later, claiming, “Nobody was there. He was a little late. I was going to say, "Hey, listen, we finished this problem," but we can end it in Portland, "he said.
Trump's campaign believes his efforts to label Biden as a low-crime group will help Trump win back local 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 excitement 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 a lot of emphasis on metropolitan Pittsburgh, where the Democrats lost ground in 2016 but then watched Democratic Congress candidate Conor Lamb cause a stir in a special election.
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
Even so, 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 rival Hillary Clinton in the largest, heavily 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 curb 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 could become even more favorable to Republicans with many older white voters, despite democratically voting from 1992 to Trump's victory in 2016.