Trump Pennsylvania rally comes as president seeks to reset campaign

John Fritze, David Jackson, Bruce Siwy and Matthew Toth, USA TODAY
Published 3:55 p.m. MT Oct. 13, 2020 | Updated 5:57 p.m. MT Oct. 13, 2020

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President Trump claimed himself cured of COVID-19 and said he is “immune” from the virus. Some medical professionals say there is no guarantee of that.

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump made a direct appeal to suburban women during a campaign rallyin the critical battleground of Pennsylvania Tuesday as he sought to use his Supreme Court nomination to reset the trajectory of the race.  

“Do me a favor, suburban women, would you please like me?” Trump said in Johnstown, Pa., a Republican stronghold where Trump hopes to run up turnout in the Nov. 3 election. “I saved your damn neighborhood, okay?”

Trump started off almost immediately with criticism of Joe Biden, saying his Democratic opponent was “shot” and had “crushed” the state. Trump, who made China trade and job losses in Pennsylvania’s once-robust manufacturing sector big issues four years ago, was eager to hit the same theme as he spoke to the crowd. 

The president, who spoke for a little over an hour, also spent considerable time touting Judge Amy Coney Barrett, noting he had watched her confirmation hearing in the Senate on Tuesday.  

“Amy’s made a great impression,” Trump told the crowd. “She’ll be a great justice.” 

The rally comes as polls show Biden with a single-digit lead in Pennsylvania, which Trump won narrowly in 2016 – becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the Keystone State since George H.W. Bush in 1988. A key demographic in polling has been suburban women, which is why Trump has crafted a message focused heavily on law and order. 

President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he arrives to hold a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, October 13, 2020. (Photo: SAUL LOEB, AFP via Getty Images)

The event comes in the final stretch as  Trump is running out of time to recapture control of the race. 

Just more than a week after he left the hospital, Trump is ramping up his campaign schedule and is now set to hold rallies in Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida this week, following the visits to Florida and Pennsylvania on Monday and Tuesday. 

Trump, who threw out masks to the crowd as took the stage but who did not wear a mask himself, at one point asked the crowd how many of them had recovered from COVID-19. There was a smattering of applause.

“A lot of people,” the president asserted in reply. 

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People wait to enter a rally for President Trump at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Oct. 13, 2020. (Photo: Matthew Toth)

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Dozens of Trump supporters formed a line at the gates of the airport hours before they opened. The president’s visit came just weeks after his son Donald Trump Jr. held an afternoon rally in Johnstown.

James Haverly, 32, was among the early risers to cheer when a young boy joined the line dressed as a mini-Trump, complete with blond wig.

US President Donald Trump throws masks as he arrives to hold a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, October 13, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 0 ORIG FILE ID: AFP_8T26EC.jpg (Photo: SAUL LOEB, AFP via Getty Images)

“That’s a boy who knows a great man when he sees one,” Haverly said. “He wants to keep America great.”

Haverly added that he always votes against “the liberal agenda.” He called Trump the role model Republican in this day and age, and downplayed concerns about being in a crowd amid a pandemic.

“I wasn’t going to let something as small as COVID-19 stop me from seeing Trump,” he said.

Across the street, several truck drivers waved “Biden 2020” signs at the waiting rally-goers.

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