Trump rallies in Philadelphia as 2024 campaign heats up

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Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally outside Schnecksville Fire Hall on April 13, 2024 in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. . (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA — Former President Donald Trump will be in the most important swing state’s biggest city for a campaign rally on Saturday. And for the first time in the 2024 campaign, GOP U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick, who received Trump’s endorsement in April, is expected to join him.

“President Donald Trump loves the people of Pennsylvania,” Trump’s campaign said in a release announcing the rally at the Liacouras Center on Temple University’s campus.

But the former president has not always expressed “love” for the city of Philadelphia.

In 2020, Trump called Philadelphia one of “the most corrupt political places in our country,” and said during a 2020 debate with Joe Biden that “bad things happen in Philadelphia.” He also falsely claimed in the 2020 election that there were “more votes than people” in Pennsylvania. 

North Philadelphia, home to Temple University and the Liacouras Center, is a primarily Black neighborhood in the city. Black voters are a key demographic for both presidential candidates, and played a decisive role in the 2020 election in Pennsylvania. Ninety-two percent of Black voters in Pennsylvania voted for Biden in 2020, while 7% voted for Trump.

A Suffolk University/USA TODAY survey released earlier this week showed the margins narrowing a bit. Biden received 56% of support among Black voters in Pennsylvania in the latest survey, while Trump received 11%. So while Biden may not yet have the level of support he had from Black voters in Pennsylvania four years ago, Trump is still well behind him.

The state Legislative Black Caucus held a rally last week in Harrisburg to endorse Biden.

“Think about where we were four years ago, hearing from Trump occupying the White House that drinking bleach was OK to treat COVID-19. Sometimes we get lost and forget the history, but every indicator indicates that Black folks are better off and this country is better off with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s administration,” state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) said. 

On Friday, Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) blasted Trump ahead of the rally in his district. 

“We have a guy, who is about to come to my district, actually, to lie, to make up stuff, and to engage in complete revisionist history after four years of failure,” Kenyatta said. He called Trump’s administration “one of the most incompetent and corrupt.”

“And now you have this guy coming to Philadelphia, bringing all 34 of his felony convictions to the Liacouras Center,” Kenyatta said. 

Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts in a New York courtroom in May. He’s scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Saturday’s visit is a part of the Trump campaign’s attempt to appeal to Black voters. On June 15, Trump visited Detroit  — another city he previously disparaged, as “hell” and “totally corrupt” — for the launch of his “Black Americans for Trump” effort. Trump claimed he had done “more for the Black population than any American president since Abraham Lincoln,” and said Biden is “all talk.”

The Trump campaign continues to push the messaging that the former president’s policies were better for Black Americans than Biden. In a statement announcing the launch of “Black Americans for Trump,” the campaign’s Black Media Director Janiyah Thomas said “while Black Americans have been left behind by Joe Biden, President Trump has prioritized the Black community.”

Saturday will be Trump’s fourth visit to Pennsylvania this year, and his second to Philadelphia after delivering brief remarks at Sneaker Con in February to  promote his new line of gold, Trump-branded shoes. Although Trump has held numerous rallies in the Philadelphia suburbs since his first campaign for president, Saturday is his first rally in the city proper. 

The Trump campaign has ratcheted up its efforts in the Keystone State in recent weeks. On June 4, the campaign opened its first “Trump Force 47” office in Philadelphia, headlined by U.S. Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX), who spoke at a podium with a sign that read “Black Americans for Trump.” Later that evening, Hunt joined U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) for a “Congress, Cognac, and Cigars” event aimed at speaking to Black voters in Philadelphia.

On June 12, the Trump campaign opened an office in Reading with a focus on Latino American voters, and on Tuesday the Republican National Committee brought its effort to recruit poll workers and poll watchers and rally support for Trump’s candidacy to the Philadelphia suburbs.

The Biden campaign made a Pennsylvania presence a high priority earlier in the 2024 race, with the president making eight appearances in the Keystone State so far this year, most of them in the Democratic-heavy southeast region of the commonwealth. 

His most recent campaign visit was in late May to Philadelphia with Vice President Kamala Harris. to launch of “Black Voters for Biden-Harris” at Girard College. The Biden campaign has 24 coordinated offices across the state, opening its first round of offices in March.

The Democratic National Committee has launched an ad campaign ahead of Trump’s visit, releasing a billboard, a mobile billboard circling Temple University’s campus calling the former president “a disaster for Black Americans,” and pro-Biden kiosks across campus. 

McCormick, who trails incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in most recent polling by around 6 points, said on social media Thursday that he was “looking forward to joining @realDonaldTrump in Philly this weekend to talk about the leadership needed to get our country back on track! Together, we will RETIRE Joe Biden and Bob Casey.”

During a campaign event in Philadelphia on Friday, Casey said he didn’t want to comment on campaign tactics, but hopes Trump and McCormick have to answer questions on various pieces of proposed legislation. 

“I hope he is asked some basic questions,” Casey said. “I hope Mr. Trump and Mr. McCormick are asked ‘do you support the John Lewis legislation to protect the right to vote? Do you support the Women’s Health Protection Act? Do you support the right of workers to be organizing and vote for the PRO Act?” 

On Friday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign announced he has filed enough signatures to make the ballot in Pennsylvania, although his nominating petitions will likely be challenged by Democrats and Republicans. Polling over the past few months shows Kennedy typically registers a few points in Pennsylvania, which could potentially help tip the scales in a close race between Biden and Trump. Which candidate might benefit from having RFK Jr. in the race remains unclear, however.

Polling throughout the 2024 cycle has shown Biden and Trump locked in a close race in Pennsylvania, although some recent ones show the former president with a slight edge. An Emerson College poll released on Thursday showed Trump leading Biden by 2 points in Pennsylvania. 


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