ERIE, Pa. – Vice President Mike Pence and Jill Biden made last-minute pitches to Erie voters on Monday, as they tried to shore up support in a swing county that’s critical to both campaigns.
The day started out with Biden speaking to a crowd of roughly 70 supporters and campaign volunteers. The event, which was invitation only, took place at East Middle School located in the center of the city of Erie. Pence touched down later this afternoon, speaking outdoors at the Erie International Airport to a crowd of nearly 300 supporters.
Across town, Pence chanted, “Four more, years,” as he urged voters to support President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.
Trump won Erie County 48-46 percent over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump barnstormed northeastern Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon, while the Biden campaign fanned out across Pennsylvania on Monday.
In Erie, Biden and Pence homed in on familiar talking points.
In a 10 minute address Biden both highlighted the character of her husband, and tore into the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, “He’s [Trump] just trying to wish this pandemic away, he says the virus has turned the corner, instead he’s turned his back on us.”
She continued, “We all want the same things, we want to work hard and make a good life for our families, but we can’t do that right now because of this pandemic, and because we are losing jobs. We aren’t divided, we’re just trying to survive the reality that is Donald Trump’s America.”
On her husband’s COVID-19 plan Biden said, “He has a plan to end this pandemic and re-build this county, re-imagine a future that is better than ever. A future that we will have by tomorrow night.”
“While this president tries to talk himself out of responsibility, Joe Biden is a man of his word.”
Biden ended her remarks painting a picture of an America where, “the sun will finally shine.”
Pence, joined by incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, struck a different chord across town, painting a bleak picture of America under the Obama-Biden administration.
“Terrorism was on the rise around the world, our most cherished values where consistently under assault from overseas. And our economy was struggling in the worst recession since the great depression,” Pence said.
“Four years ago, you believed we could be strong again,” Pence continued. “You believed we could be prosperous. And you said yes in 2016 to Donald Trump. We need you to say yes to Donald Trump again in 2020 … show the nation that Pennsylvania is Trump country.”
In a 45-minute address, Pence talked about Trump’s commitment to honoring military veterans, “revitalization of the economy,” and work “securing” the border.
In a dig at Biden, Pence said the former vice president “spent eight years in the last administration trying to tax, and spend, regulate and bail us into a growing economy. He proceeded over the slowest economy in over 80 years. Donald Trump, in three-short years, built the greatest economy that America has ever seen.”
Across the state, COVID-19 numbers have risen rapidly, with Pennsylvania charting its highest single day total for cases last week.
Correspondent Shayma Musa covers Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow her on Twitter @Musa_Shayma.