Former Vice President Joe Biden struck back at President Donald Trump’s charge that he ‘deserted’ Pennsylvania, saying his family left the state when the coal industry died and unemployment spiked.
‘He left Scranton!’ Biden said a private fundraiser in Florida Tuesday night, quoting Trump. ‘I did, I was 10 years old, man. My dad left for a reason [Trump] couldn’t possibly understand. He left when coal died and there were no jobs, like thousands of people, he had to leave to do better for his family.’
Biden repeatedly refers to his Scranton, Pennsylvania, roots on the campaign trail. He formally launched his campaign with a rally in Philadelphia on Saturday and he’s made that city his campaign headquarters.
Former Vice President Joe Biden struck back at President Donald Trump’s charge that he ‘deserted’ Pennsylvania
President Donald Trump mocked Joe Biden for leaving the state
But Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state in more than 20 years when he won it in 2016 – a victory that helped put him in the Oval Office.
And he’s determined to win it again in next year’s contest. He struck out at Biden at a campaign rally on Monday.
‘Biden deserted you,’ the president told the crowd at a campaign rally in Montoursville, Pa., located about 80 miles west of Scranton. ‘I guess he was born here, but he left you, folks. He left you for another state.’
Many Republicans fear the former vice president will appeal to the same blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio that helped Trump win.
Biden expanded on his Trump attack on Twitter.
‘Yesterday, Trump tried to attack me at his campaign rally by saying I abandoned Pennsylvania. I’ve never forgotten where I came from. My family did have to leave Pennsylvania when I was 10 — we moved to Delaware where my Dad found a job that could provide for our family,’ he wrote.
And he framed it in a way that would appeal to the blue-collar workers he is trying to win to his side.
‘Trump doesn’t understand the struggles working folks go through. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to worry you will lose the roof over your head. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to wonder if you’ll be able to put food on the table,’ Biden said.
‘And he doesn’t understand that the longest walk a parent can make is up a short flight of stairs to their child’s bedroom to say, honey, I’m sorry. We have to move. You can’t go back to your school. You won’t see your friends because Daddy or Mommy lost their job,’ he added.
‘My dad had to make that walk in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized how hard it must have been for him. But he was not alone. This story isn’t unique to the Bidens. Too many people around this country have had to make that walk,’ he concluded.
The two men have been engaged in a back-and-forth since Biden formally joined the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
Biden focused his fire on the president from the start of his campaigning – criticizing him for dividing the country.
Trump has not held back.
He also got in a hit at Biden’s Philadelphia rally the week before, claiming to drew a smallish audience only a fraction of the size of his own.
‘Look at the thousands and thousands of people we have!’ he said. ‘Now, they say he had 600 people.’
‘No, no. I’d say 150,’ Trump said.
News reports put Biden’s crowd size at 6,000.
Trump’s hits at Biden comes as polls show the former vice president would win the general election if it were held today. In a Trump vs. Biden match-up, the RealClearPolitics polling average has Biden up by 8 points.
Barack Obama won Pennsylvania in 2012 by 5.4 percentage points over Republican Mitt Romney, now a U.S. senator from Utah.
But Trump cruised to victory in 57 of the state’s 67 counties, winning 20 Electoral College votes by a total of barely 54,000 votes – a 0.7 percentage point margin.
Yet he is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by a 53-42 margin in a recent Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvania voters, asked to choose between the two men in a hypothetical matchup.
Biden repeatedly refers to his Scranton roots on the campaign trail
Trump has been repeatedly attacking Biden as polls show the former vice president would beat him if the general election was held today
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also beat Trump in the poll, but by a smaller 7-point margin.
Before his campaign rally, Trump sounded confident he would win the state again next year.
‘I think we’re doing very well in Pennsylvania,’ he said at the White House. ‘We won it last time. The polls had us losing Pennsylvania last time and we won.’
‘And I expect we’ll win it this time because the coal industry, the steel industry, the car industry, they’re all doing incredibly well.’
Trump’s trip also came on the eve of a special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, with Republican Fred Keller facing off against Democrat Marc Friedenberg.
Keller spoke at Trump’s rally. He won Tuesday’s election.