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'I'll be here a lot,' Trump says of Pennsylvania in safe GOP district

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

MONTOURSVILLE, Pa. -- Air Force One landed here Monday evening ahead of a special House election as AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" blared inside an airport hangar. Minutes later, with Air Force One parked in front of small tree-lined peaks, President Donald Trump issued a thunderous endorsement of a GOP House candidate and attack on Democrats.

And repeatedly, the friendly audience showered Trump with chants of "Four More Years!" And during one rare quiet moment, a man shouted, "We love you, Trump!" Minutes later, the entire crowd, which did not quite fill the hangar, shouted in unison, "We love Trump!"

"Fred Keller is a tough man. He's tough on crime. ... He loves our vets. And he will always protect patients," Trump said of the GOP state lawmaker seeking the seat vacated earlier this year by retired Republican Tom Marino.

But the president made no bones about his other reason for being in the Keystone State Monday night: his own political future.

"There is a crucial election," he said of Tuesday's special election before turning to his 2020 reelection bid: "I'll be here a lot. ... Got to win this state."

"Get out tomorrow. It's a little bit of a referendum," Trump said, appearing to refer to his own presidency. "Go get 'em Fred."

 

The president, as he has during his early 2020 campaign rallies in other key battleground states, used some red meat issues that are important to his base to fire up the friendly crowd -- which was almost all white.

"If we're not smart it'll end for you the Second Amendment," Trump said to boos spawned by fears Democrats will enact strict gun-access laws. "No more Second Amendment."

He also took a few shots at Keller's opponent, whom he is expected to handily beat in a 12th Congressional District that Trump, now-Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona all easily won during the last three presidential general elections.

"The Democrat running for the seat is a radical socialist," Trump said, referring to Democrat Marc Friedenberg, but never naming him. "The Democrat ... wants to open your borders," he added without providing supporting evidence.

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