Trump to Pennsylvania: I really don't want to be here

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He said he wouldn't have gone to Erie at all if not for COVID.

Donald Trump told voters in Pennsylvania on Tuesday that he was only there because they had soured on him because of the pandemic.

At a rally in Erie, he complained about the cold weather and having to campaign there at all.

"Before the plague came in, I had it made. I wasn’t coming to Erie. I have to be honest. There was no way I was coming. I didn’t have to,” he said. "We had this thing won, we were so far up, we had the greatest economy ever, greatest jobs, greatest everything. And then we got hit with the plague and I had to go back to work. Hello, Erie, can I please have your vote?”

Trump has frequently made the false claim that he built the greatest economy in American history, but even before the COVID-19 pandemic came, he did not even have the job growth numbers that Barack Obama had in the final three years of his presidency.

He is correct that Pennsylvanians are unhappy with the pandemic and his botched handling of it. Older voters, who strongly backed Trump in 2016 and fueled his narrow 0.7% win in the vital swing state, have turned away from him and toward Biden — many citing his inaction on the virus as the last straw.

Pennsylvania has seen more than 177,000 coronavirus cases to date. At least 8,500 Pennsylvanians who have died from the virus, more than 7,300 of them age 65 or older.

But rather than embrace science and promote measures to curb the virus' spread, Trump has repeatedly demanded that Pennsylvania's governor immediately reopen the entire state, offering wild and contradictory conspiracy theories that Democratic governors are only following public health experts' advice to make him look bad and hurt his reelection chances.

On Tuesday, Trump told a right-wing news outlet that he would not change his pandemic response. He has previously given himself a "10" out of 10 and an "A+" for his handling of virus.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Joe Biden leads Trump by an average of 6.2% in the state's polling and has been ahead consistently since before March.

Contrary to his boasts, Trump's unpopularity in Pennsylvania preceded the pandemic. According to Morning Consult's polling, he had a net unfavorable rating in every survey since early 2017.

Trump's trade policy and tariffs hurt the state's farmers. Union workers saw fewer jobs and worsening conditions. Unemployment in the state nearly doubled from the Obama era.

Trump's campaigning approach has been odd in recent days. Last week, Trump said at an Iowa rally that if he loses that state, he will boycott the state. And he said at a Georgia rally that if he loses, "Maybe I'll have to leave the country."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.