READING, Pa. - Vice President Mike Pence returned to the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania on Saturday, declaring President Donald Trump a champion of the "forgotten men and women of America" and blasting Joe Biden as a "Trojan Horse for the radical left."
"The road to victory runs right through Pennsylvania," Pence told more than 1,000 supporters here after bounding down the stairs from Air Force Two and running toward the stage outside an airport hangar.
Pence ran through a familiar recitation of the administration's accomplishments on the economy, cutting regulations, and increasing military spending. "We created the greatest economy in history," Pence said, despite growing indicators that the rebound from the economic devastation of the pandemic earlier this year is slowing.
"Joe Biden, he's been a cheerleader for communist China," Pence said, leading some supporters to shout out, "Lock him up!"
Pence credited Trump for "unleashing American energy," and having "ended the war on coal," in a state where coal and natural gas drilling hold outsized importance in the political culture - if not necessarily in most voters' priorities.
"Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want to abolish fossil fuels, end fracking, and destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs right here in the Keystone State," Pence said, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
Jobs in the coal industry have not actually rebounded as Trump promised. Biden has repeatedly said he would not ban fracking, only that he would halt new leases for drilling on federal lands.
Just over two weeks before Election Day, Trump trails Biden in national polls and across most swing states including Pennsylvania, with a majority of voters disapproving of the president's job performance and handling of the coronavirus pandemic. And surveys show that a far smaller number of voters remain undecided than at this point in 2016, leaving little room for Trump to rebound.
The vice president's appearance capped a busy week of campaigning in Pennsylvania, which both parties and analysts see as likely to determine who wins the White House. In addition to Trump's rally in Johnstown on Tuesday, Biden was in Philadelphia on Thursday for a televised ABC News town hall.
Other supporters of the candidates descended on the state Saturday, with Trump's son Eric campaigning outside Scranton, and Doug Emhoff, the husband of Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, in Philadelphia. Sen. Cory Booker, D.-N.J., will campaign for Biden in Philadelphia on Sunday.