Trump Rallies In Pennsylvania

Mar 11, 2018
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Voters will head to the polls this Tuesday in a Western Pennsylvania House district President Trump carried by nearly 20 points. With the Democrat Conor Lamb on the verge of a major upset in the special election, Trump traveled to Pittsburgh to help boost the campaign of Republican Rick Saccone. As NPR's Scott Detrow reports, Trump seemed thrilled to be back in campaign mode.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: For a few moments Saturday, Trump gave voters a glimpse into the alternate universe where he's a traditional, cautious and scripted commander in chief.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm very presidential. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here tonight. Rick Saccone will be a great, great congressman. He will help me very much.

DETROW: But that's not Trump. And that's not why the people who flock to his rallies and flocked to the voting booth in 2016 supported him.


TRUMP: That's much easier than doing what I have to do because - but this is much more effective. Don't forget this got us elected.

DETROW: So rallying with Rick Saccone in a big airplane hanger, Trump put the Trump twist on the presidency. He bragged. He aired grievances. He viewed his historic decision to hold nuclear negotiations with North Korea through the framework of how cable news hosts reacted.


TRUMP: Then I get up in the morning. Some time goes...


TRUMP: Right? Same people - they're saying not that big of a deal. Anybody could've done it. Obama could've done it. Obama had a chance. No, no.


TRUMP: They're saying Obama, Obama, Obama.

DETROW: But through it all, Trump laid out his campaign argument for the upcoming midterms and for his eventual 2020 re-election campaign. Trump said he's accomplished a lot.


TRUMP: Regulation, tax cuts, federal judges, a great, great Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch - great. Look what we've done. Look what we've done.

DETROW: And he told the crowd he needs Republicans to do it. Democrat Conor Lamb may be conservative, Trump said. But he'll likely vote with the Democrats most of the time. Trump namechecked two California congresswomen, raising the warning of a Democrat-controlled House.


TRUMP: We need our Congressman Saccone. We have to have him.


TRUMP: You have to have him. Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters. The only chance she's got to become speaker is electing Democrats. And, you know, we don't have a big margin...

DETROW: Will this pitch work? Tuesday will provide a big clue. Saccone is struggling in a district he should win easily. Polls are tight. And Democrats think Lamb has a real chance to win. Trump was blunt about that as he stood with Saccone on the stage at the end of the rally.


TRUMP: The world is watching. This - I hate to put this pressure on you, Rick. They're all watching because I won this district, like, by 22 points. It's a lot. That's why I'm here. Look at all those red hats, Rick.

DETROW: And all those red hats will look a bit different in 2020. Trump told the crowd that Make America Great Again won't work when he's the one in the White House. So the hats will have a new slogan Trump rolled out Saturday night - Keep America Great, with an exclamation point. No more MAGA. Now it's KAG. Scott Detrow, NPR News, Moon Township, Pa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.