Biden, Obama, Trump target key US state in countdown to midterms

1. US Elections
Former US president Barack Obama attends a rally in support of Democratic US Senate candidate John Fetterman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 5, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

PHILADELPHIA, United States — US President Joe Biden and his two predecessors converged on the state of Pennsylvania Saturday, making closing pitches in a key battleground state for next week’s midterm election.اضافة اعلان

Biden was set to rally alongside his old boss Barack Obama as the Democratic Party deployed their big guns to build the energy they hope will spread nationwide and reverse the late rightward-shift in polling.

And in a split-screen preview of a potential rematch of the 2020 presidential contest, the midwestern state is also playing host to Biden’s predecessor and bitter political rival Donald Trump.

Obama was the first to appear Saturday, lashing out before a crowd in Pittsburgh at what he said were Republican plans to cut government spending.

“They want to gut social security. They want to gut medicare. They want to give rich folks and big corporations more tax cuts,” Obama said.

Obama — still the party’s most bankable star six years after leaving the White House — threw his support behind Democratic candidate John Fetterman, who is in a dead heat against Republican TV physician Mehmet Oz in their crucial Senate race.

Biden and Obama were to appear later in the day in Philadelphia, the historic cradle of US independence where the 44th and 46th presidents will woo voters from the suburbs that make for a crucial base of Democratic support.

Just a few kilometers east of Pittsburgh in Latrobe, Trump — the one-term 45th president with ambitions to return as the 47th — will seek to firm up support in a region that delivered him big margins in 2016 and 2020.

Pennsylvania is seen as a must-win not just for control of the Senate, but also for the balance of power among the country’s 50 state governors, influential officials that weigh in on most aspects of voters’ lives, from education and health care to voting rights.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro has been spotlighting the fringe views of state senator Doug Mastriano, his far-right opponent who was involved in Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

A victory for Trump-backed Mastriano would give the prominent election denier oversight of the state’s voting system for the 2024 presidential race.

Like Biden, Trump has visited Pennsylvania twice this year, rallying for Oz and Mastriano most recently in Wilkes-Barre in early September.

The 76-year-old tycoon has already claimed that the state’s elections have been “rigged”, echoing his false claims that his own 2020 defeat was the result of widespread fraud.

“As Biden’s approval rating plummets, Pennsylvania crime spikes, and Pennsylvanians grapple with a 74 percent hike in heating oil, coupled with record inflation, just weeks away from winter,” Trump’s office said in a statement.

“The America First Movement offers the Keystone State an alternative vision for America: safe streets, cheap gas, low inflation, and a thriving American economy.”

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