‘Indicted more than Al Capone’: Trump stumps in pivotal PA as Manhattan trial looms

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NORTH WHITEHALL TWP — Former President Donald Trump returned to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania on a cold and windy Saturday to rally supporters in a pivotal battleground region 10 days before the state’s primary election.

“The pilot said ‘it’s too windy to land, sir,” Trump said at the beginning of an hour long speech. “I said ‘that’s OK, land anywhere. It’s windy, but it’s beautiful, it’s Pennsylvania.”

Describing the stakes of the upcoming November election, Trump said that “2024 is our final battle.”

“We are either going to have a great nation or a failed nation,” Trump said.

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Saturday’s visit comes two days before Trump is scheduled to stand trial in criminal proceedings in a New York City courtroom. Trump is accused of falsifying business records to cover up payments made in 2016 after an alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels. He will be the first former U.S. president to stand trial in criminal proceedings.

As he has in previous rallies, Trump spent a sizable chunk of time trying to blame President Joe Biden’s administration for the charges he faces in several cases. He called it a “communist show trial” and claimed that some prosecutors suffer from TDS, or “Trump Derangement Syndrome”

“Remember, I’ve been indicted more than Al Capone, the great gangster,” Trump said. “I never heard the word indictment, I didn’t know, now all of a sudden, if I fly over a Democrat state, a blue state, I get subpoenaed before a grand jury.”

As in previous rallies, Trump also claimed baselessly on several occasions that the 2020 election was rigged against him and that he won Pennsylvania. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes in 2016, but lost to Biden in 2020 by 80,000 votes.

In recent months, Pennsylvania Republicans, including U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick and U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-10th District), have ratcheted up their calls for Republicans to embrace voting by mail, arguing they won’t be able to win without them, since Democrats have a large mail ballot advantage. On Saturday, Trump claimed, without evidence, that mail in voting was being used against him.

Trump called for paper ballots, same day voting, and voter ID.

Trump also spent a great deal of time discussing border security as a rallying cry for his 2024 campaign.

“Job number one is going to be, as soon as we take office, we will seal the border,” Trump said to applause.

“On day one, we will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in the history of our country,” Trump said later in the rally.

State Sen. Jarrett Coleman (R-Lehigh) said in an interview with the Capital-Star that the two biggest issues for voters in the Lehigh Valley were the economy and the border.

When making a Pennsylvania-centric pitch to supporters on Saturday night, Trump claimed the energy policies of his administration would benefit the state’s economy, touted passing the USMCA Trade Agreement, while criticizing the Biden administration’s moratorium on building new liquified natural gas export terminals, and U.S. Steel’s proposed sale to Japanese-based Nippon Steel.

Noticeably missing from Trump’s speech was any mention of abortion. Trump made several attempts to clarify his position last week, finally saying he would not sign a nationwide ban. On the campaign trail, Trump has taken credit for Roe v. Wade being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ahead of Trump’s visit, a group of Democratic women lawmakers spoke at a press conference in Bucks County and criticized Trump’s stance on abortion. U.S. Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon (5th District), and Madeleine Dean (4th District), were joined by Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Rep. Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia, and candidate for PA-01 Ashley Ehasz.

“When I go to the doctor, there’s only room for me. There’s not room for the state legislature. There’s not room for Congress. There’s not room for the president, no matter who’s there. There’s not room for the Supreme Court,” McClinton said. “Unfortunately, the government has gotten into these medical offices by taking away our rights, by rolling back almost 50 years of precedent. And we cannot blindly sit still while the former President is in Bucks County frolicking around, continuing to spread the Big Lie.”

Although Trump is already the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, there are several competitive races for GOP candidates in Pennsylvania’s April 23 primary. Trump did not weigh in on any of the competitive primaries on Saturday night, but did formally endorse David McCormick’s candidacy for U.S. Senate and shouted out Treasurer Stacy Garrity, who is seeking a second term in office.

Trump endorses McCormick on Casey’s birthday

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (R-9th District) spoke before Trump on Saturday, suggesting that Pennsylvania is “Trump country.”

“We must elect the superior mind, the intellectual, the strategic, the great negotiator, the great leader Donald Trump the next president,” Meuser said to applause.

Prior to the evening rally, Trump attended a fundraiser in Bucks County, which is considered the lone purple county of the Philadelphia suburbs. It is unclear whether U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1st District) was in attendance for the fundraiser in his district.

Trump sent out a post on Truth Social on Saturday challenging Biden to debate him and repeated that challenge on Saturday, bringing out a podium on stage with him.

“I’m calling on crooked Joe Biden to debate, anytime, anywhere, anyplace,” Trump said.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has already announced three presidential debates for the fall.

Saturday was Trump’s third visit to the state in 2024. In February, he spoke at a National Rifle Association event in Harrisburg and one week later unveiled a new line of Trump-branded sneakers and delivered brief remarks at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia.

Biden’s campaign has kept a steady presence in the crucial battleground state. He’s made four separate appearances in Pennsylvania, all in the eastern region of the state, including the Lehigh Valley, most recently visiting Delaware County the day after his State of the Union address.

Biden will return to the state for three separate visits in the upcoming week.

The DNC put up billboards in Allentown ahead of a campaign visit by former President Donald Trump (DNC image)

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) put up billboards in Allentown criticizing Trump’s comments on abortion before the rally on Saturday. And Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro said in a Friday statement that Trump’s agenda was “too dangerous and extreme” for Pennsylvania.

In 2016, Trump lost Lehigh County by just under 5 points, but won neighboring Northampton County by nearly 4 points. In 2020, Biden won Lehigh County by roughly 7.5 points, while also flipping Northampton County blue.

“I think the Lehigh Valley is a very close predictor to how the statewide vote usually turns out,” Coleman told the Capital-Star. “The Lehigh Valley is really a melting pot.”

In 2020, Northampton County was the only county in Pennsylvania to pick the winner in all four statewide elections. The only debate between the candidates for vice president will take place in Northampton County in September.

Widespread polling shows Biden and Trump are currently locked in a close race for Pennsylvania’s 19 electoral votes. The Cook Political Report, a national ratings outlet, labels Pennsylvania as one of the six “toss-up” states this cycle. It’s the state with the most electoral votes on the line in this category.

Update: This story was updated at 11:30 p.m. April 13, 2024 with new details throughout.

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Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

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