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Pennsylvania split screen: Biden v. Trump

Call it a 2020 flashback or perhaps a foreshadow of 2024: Residents of Wilkes-Barre, in northeastern Pennsylvania, are receiving dueling visits this week, first from President Biden, then from former President Donald Trump.

Why it matters: Their visits underscore the region’s significance in nation-wide politics.

  • Pennsylvania is among the biggest political battlegrounds on the midterm map. But Trump-endorsed candidates have jeopardized the GOP’s capability to gain ground in this perennial swing state.
  • Wilkes-Barre is near Biden’s hometown of Scranton, a onetime Democratic stronghold that’s turn into a many more Republican lately. It’s situated in probably the most hotly-contested swing districts with this year’s midterm map.

Driving the news headlines: Biden is holding the official White House event on Tuesday at Wilkes University, giving a speech centered on public safety. Trump holds his first midterm general-election rally on Saturday, at an arena several miles later on.

  • Biden’s visit may be the make-up date for July plans that needed to be postponed when he got COVID.
  • Trump is headlining a meeting with three of his endorsed candidates in Pennsylvania, now the GOP nominees because of their respective contests: Doug Mastriano for governor, Mehmet Oz for Senate and congressional challenger Jim Bognet for a residence seat.

By the numbers: Luzerne County, where Wilkes-Barre is situated, featured one of the primary pro-Trump swings of any major county between 2012 and 2020. Former President Obama carried the county with 52% of the vote in his re-election, but Trump won 57% of the vote there against Biden in 2020.

  • The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter moved Pennsylvania’s Senate race to “lean Democrat” this month, citing widespread GOP concerns with hawaii of Oz’s campaign. Rep. Matt Cartwright, who represents Luzerne County in Congress, is among five Democrats left holding an area that Trump carried in 2020.

What they’re saying: Bognet, Cartwright’s GOP challenger and a former Republican consultant, has trumpeted his Trump endorsement.

  • “I was proud to work with President Trump in his administration to advance the America First agenda. I’m the only real challenger in Pennsylvania endorsed by President Trump, and I’m excited President Trump is having an enormous rally in my own district this Saturday,” Bognet told Axios.
  • But Bognet scrubbed the majority of the Trump mentions on his campaign website after winning the GOP primary, in accordance with HuffPost despite the fact that Trump carried the district by three points in 2020.

What’s next: Biden will undoubtedly be back Pennsylvania on Thursday to provide a prime-time speech on “the continued battle for the soul of the country” at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

  • In a few days he’ll maintain Pittsburgh for a campaign-style Labor Day parade featuring Democratic and union leaders.

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