Trump Rallies Raucous Crowd In Wilkes-Barre Twp.
President Donald Trump labeled U.S. Sen. Bob Casey as “Sleeping Bob” and “boring” as he rallied a raucous arena crowd behind U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta’s struggling Senate campaign Thursday night.
Before more than 11,000 people at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Twp., Trump called Barletta “an incredible champion” and portrayed Casey as a “super-liberal Democrat.” He accused Casey of favoring an open Mexican border “and if they pour in by the millions, that’s, I guess, OK.”
“Build that wall, build that wall,” the crowd chanted.
“Bob Casey doesn’t mind MS-13 coming in,” Trump said, referring to the Latino gang, as the crowd booed. “These are the slicers, they slice people up. … They’re animals. Bob Casey wants to fire the incredible men and women of ICE. He wants to abolish ICE because he’s weak.”
Casey, a Scranton Democrat, opposes abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, though some Democrats support the idea.
“We need Republicans, we need Lou Barletta. He’s tough,” Trump said.
Waving signs that said, “Drain the Swamp,” “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept,”
the crowd cheered Trump every time he took credit for one of his administration’s accomplishments. At one point, security escorted a woman apparently opposed to Trump out of the arena to loud cheers.
“Get him out,” Trump said, not noticing the protester was a woman. “Get him out.”
Trump arrived here hoping to jolt Barletta’s campaign, which lags Casey’s badly in fundraising and in polls. Three independent polls since April have Casey ahead of Barletta by 15 to 17 percentage points. Casey had about five times as much money left halfway as of June 30.
Barletta’s campaign said donations poured in from across the country during the rally, which again showed Trump’s ability to draw an overflow crowd. Hundreds of people who had tickets arrived too late to get inside.
Trump noted polling showed him behind as he ran for president but said Pennsylvania helped him win election.
The president needs Barletta elected because Barletta won’t block his agenda the way Casey does.
He ripped Casey as “overrated,” someone who blocked cuts to regulations and worse than an obstructionist. He said Casey keeps a low profile and answers only to Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and a woman he called “the new star of the Democratic Party,” House member Maxine Waters of California. Trump frequently criticizes Waters, but it’s unclear why he tied her to Casey.
“I’m not sure I ever met Bob Casey. I never met him,” Trump said. “Now his father was a good man, knew him a little bit. But we’re dealing with a totally different person. I don’t know this man.”
Casey’s father is the late former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey Sr.
Trump pointed out Casey backed President Barack Obama, which instantly sparked boos. He accused them of “horrible attacks on our clean-coal industry” and said Casey “was making it absolutely impossible for miners.”
“Lou Barletta was fighting on behalf of our miners, our mines, our companies and our beautiful Pennsylvania clean coal,” he said. “Lou won and so did I and so did you.”
He portrayed Barletta as a fighter.
“When he wants something for Pennsylvania, he is brutal, he is brutal,” Trump said.
About 10 minutes into his speech, Trump brought Barletta on stage. For about three minutes, Barletta defended Trump and savaged Casey.
Under Trump, he said, the economy and small business and consumer confidence are soaring, the stock market is up more than 20 percent, unemployment is at 4 percent and unemployment among blacks, Hispanics and women are at “all-time lows.”
“There are more jobs now than people who are unemployed. ISIS is practically gone, North Korea is at the table, the wall’s being built,” Barletta said as the crowd roared. “We’re not tired of winning, Mr. President, we’re not tired of winning.”
He accused Casey of turning into “one of the most liberal senators in Washington” and “leading the resistance and obstruction” to Trump’s agenda, dismissing Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, before Trump even nominated him, favoring Obamacare, backing sanctuary cities and wanting to repeal Trump’s tax cuts.
“We want to keep that economy going,” he said. “We want to take care of our kids, we want to honor our military, we want to put an end to illegal immigration once and for all and we want to take a knee to pray and stand for the flag.”
Barletta said he never thought he would be a politician, Hazleton mayor or congressman.
“But never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe that the president of the United States would come to my home area to help me win an election to the United States Senate,” he said. “Help me help President Trump drain the swamp and make America great again.”
When Trump returned, he took credit for the soaring economy, curbing illegal immigration, a stronger military, regaining the remains of prisoners of war from North Korea and restoring the nation’s standing internationally.
“I’m proud to be back in the state that gave us back American independence and steel that’s coming back very strongly,” he said. “We live in a truly incredible country and this is an incredible time. You see what’s happening, we are again. We’re crushing the terrorists. We’re taking care of our vets, we love our vets.”
When he recalled his criticism of NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, the crowd chanted, “USA, USA, USA.”
In a statement issued before Trump spoke, Casey thanked the president for signing three of his bills into law in the last four months, “including the first major workforce training bill in 12 years.”
“But I’m not running against President Trump. I’m running against a member of Congress who has voted in lockstep with a corporate special interest agenda that is stacking the deck against working families and holding Pennsylvania’s middle class back. No matter what they throw at me, I will never back down from that fight,” Casey said.
Contact the writer:
@BorysBlogTT on Twitter