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Trump goes after Biden in Pennsylvania hours before Democratic convention speech

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE on Thursday went after Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE on the former vice president's home turf, attacking his record and attempting to chip away at his support in Pennsylvania just hours before Biden is set to accept the Democratic nomination for president.

Trump delivered the remarks to a group of supporters outdoors at Mariotti Building Products, a building materials supplier in Old Forge, not far from Biden’s hometown of Scranton. Biden is due to deliver a keynote address at the virtual Democratic National Convention later Thursday evening from his current home state of Delaware. 

“Slow Joe will speak at the Democrat convention, and I’m sure that he’ll just knock ‘em dead. And he’ll remind us that he was born in Scranton. But you know, he left,” Trump said, accusing the former vice president of abandoning the working-class city.

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Biden was born in Scranton, but his family moved to Delaware when he was a child. The former vice president often plays up his Pennsylvania roots and is popular in pockets of the state.

Trump on Thursday attempted to argue that Biden’s policies during his decades-long career in office in fact hurt voters in Pennsylvania, citing his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Paris climate accord, both of which the Trump administration has moved to undo. 

“Joe Biden is no friend to Pennsylvania,” Trump told the crowd. “He is your worst nightmare.” 

The president, as he has done in recent campaign ads and speeches, leaned heavily on promoting a vision of destruction if Biden were to become president. He said an increase in low-income housing would threaten life in the suburbs, predicted “mayhem” if Biden were elected, and claimed his presidency was the only thing preventing chaos from breaking out across the country.  

“If you want a vision of your life under a Biden presidency, think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the blood-stained sidewalks of Chicago, and imagine the mayhem coming to your town, and every single town in America,” Trump said, referencing protests that have taken place in major cities over racial injustice that have at times turned violent.

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Trump described Biden as a vessel for “radical left” policies and described the Democratic Party as filled with “crazy people,” repeating a false assertion that the Democratic ticket would only win in November if the election is “rigged.” 

The president’s speech came one day after former President Obama, who won Pennsylvania in 2008 and 2012, warned that Trump was a threat to democracy who must be defeated in November.

Trump won Pennsylvania by roughly 45,000 votes in 2016 and it was considered key to his narrow victory. The Keystone State is one of several that he won four years ago where he is now trailing or on defense. A Muhlenberg College-Morning Call survey released Thursday found Biden leading Trump 49 percent to 45 percent in Pennsylvania, an advantage within the margin of error. A RealClearPolitics average of polls in the state shows Biden with a roughly 6 percentage point lead over Trump.

Thursday’s speech capped off a week of counter-programming by Trump in an attempt to pull some of the spotlight away from the Democratic National Convention, where Democrats hammered the incumbent president on his response to the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 173,000 people in the U.S. The president campaigned in Minnesota and Wisconsin on Monday and traveled to Iowa and Arizona on Tuesday.

The events marked a return to campaigning for Trump, who spoke to hundreds of supporters outdoors during each stop. Large rallies have been paused amid the coronavirus pandemic, particularly after an indoor Trump rally in Tulsa, Okla., led to underwhelming turnout and a spike in infections in the area.

Trump used his remarks in Pennsylvania to tout the economic recovery during the pandemic, noting the millions of jobs gained back since May. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 10.2 percent in July, according to the latest jobs report. He claimed that Biden wants to impose a “permanent lockdown combined with a socialist takeover of the economy.” 

Trump also hit Democrats for what he described as overly restrictive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He singled out Pennsylvania Gov. Tom WolfTom WolfPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College Trump cancels plans to attend Pennsylvania GOP event on election MORE (D) over limits on businesses, claiming the shutdowns were causing depression and drug use that would “destroy your soul.”