HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania stakes its claim as the center of the political universe this weekend as past and present presidents campaign for their candidates ahead of midterm election day.
President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama teamed up on Saturday to run for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro and Senate nominee John Fetterman in Philadelphia.
“This crowd is so loud I think they can hear us in Latrobe,” Biden said in his opening remarks, hitting there later Saturday night at former President Donald Trump’s rally. “You will hear us on Tuesday.”
“The power to shape this outcome is in your hands,” Biden said. “Two years ago you used your power to make Trump not just a former president, but a defeated president.”
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Trump held a rally at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in support of Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano and Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz, calling them both “great people”.
“You’re going to vote up and down the incredible list of true America First Republicans,” Trump said. At the Biden-Obama event at Temple University, Trump said, “I heard they had a little rally.”
“They don’t call it the Keystone State for nothing,” said David Dix, a Philadelphia-based political strategist who has worked on Republican and Democratic campaigns, of the 11-hour attention from both sides. “Once again, Pennsylvania is the country’s political epicenter, and the balance sheet of the House and Senate will be weighed from here on Tuesday.”
“It’s just another indicator that we’re a deep purple, late-deciding state that often splits the ticket between Democrats and Republicans,” Dix added.
The Pennsylvania Senate marquee race could determine which party wins control of the chamber. Republicans only need one seat to gain a majority, as Democrats currently control the 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaker.
“This race has been on the brink for a long time,” said Christopher Nicholas, a longtime Republican strategist in Pennsylvania.
The gap between Fetterman and Oz is narrowing by the day, according to the FiveThirtyEight poll average, with the two candidates separated by just 0.4 percentage points.
“There’s no stopping John Fetterman,” Biden said Saturday. “There is no stopping in Pennsylvania. There is no stopping in America, we just need to remember who we are, we are the United States of America.”
Biden also shot Oz, who was criticized for living in New Jersey until the end of 2020: “I’ve lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz has lived in Pennsylvania, and I moved when I was 10 years old,” Biden said.
In a message to voters on Saturday, Fetterman set himself up as a life official while accusing Oz of trying to “use” Pennsylvania and trying to buy the seat.
Oz described himself as an agent of change in a closing pitch at a rally in Elizabethtown earlier this week, encouraging attendees to tell neighbors his message about the economy, crime and the frontier.
“There are three themes that I’ve dealt with during my campaign,” he said. “These are the problems at the kitchen table that every family in Pennsylvania has been talking about.”
The gubernatorial race between Shapiro and Mastriano is another contentious race and one of the biggest tests of Trump’s denial of the vote this cycle.
Mastriano, a Republican lawmaker, attended Trump’s Jan. 6 rally just before the Capitol attack and continued to spread the former president’s lies about the 2020 election results.
The FiveThirtyEight poll average repels Mastriano in the race by around 10 percentage points.
Biden has fought hard in Pennsylvania this year, and at this final stop in Philadelphia, he and Obama wanted to foster democratic enthusiasm in a key area of the state. Citing his own midterm losses in 2010, Obama urged rally-goers to make sure their friends vote.
“Democrats see it as critical to get the highest possible voter turnout in the city, particularly among the black community,” Nicholas said. “That’s always the goal for them.”
Biden’s success in the Democratic strongholds of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and their neighboring suburbs ultimately led to his victory there over Trump in 2020.
Trump was last in Pennsylvania in September when he held a pro-Oz and Mastriano rally in Wilkes-Barre. The stakes are high for the former president, who is laying the groundwork for a 2024 campaign and could make an announcement as early as the week of November 14, sources say.
“Latrobe is essentially the epicenter of Republican turnout,” Dix said, noting that nearby Allegheny County probably has more registered Republicans “than anywhere else in the state.”
“I certainly understand the strategy and why the former president decided to rally there,” Dix said.
– ABC News’ Will McDuffie contributed to this report.
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https://6abc.com/election-2022-pennsylvania-midterms-rally-joe-biden/12421138/ Election 2022: Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Donald Trump hold dueling midterm rallies in Pennsylvania