Three incumbent and former presidents will arrive in Pennsylvania on Saturday, while Democrats and Republicans are leaning on political heavyweights to sell their messages days before an election that will determine the shape of Congress for the next two years.
Opinion polls suggest Republicans are poised to regain control of the House after Tuesday’s midterms. But the Senate is widely seen as up for grabs, with voters in a handful of key swing states including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada likely to determine the outcome.
Former President Barack Obama, who has criss-crossed the country last week supporting Democratic Senate candidates, will take the stage in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on Saturday with Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Democratic nominee for the Senate US Senate, share.
Obama and Fetterman will be joined in Philadelphia by President Joe Biden, who largely withdrew from the pre-election campaign given persistently low approval ratings but has stepped up his public appearances in recent days.
Meanwhile, the man Biden defeated – Donald Trump – will hold a rally Saturday night in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a small town about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. Trump, who has embarked on his own cross-country tour with stops in Iowa, Florida and Ohio, among others, will perform at Latrobe with Fetterman’s opponent Mehmet Oz and Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano.
Pennsylvania has long been recognized as a central swing state and beacon of national sentiment. There, Biden defeated Trump in 2020 by a razor-thin margin of around 80,000 votes. Democrats have targeted the US Senate seat since incumbent Republican Pat Toomey announced his resignation at the end of his six-year term.
Over the summer, opinion polls gave Fetterman – the brash former mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania – a double-digit lead over Oz, the cardiothoracic surgeon-turned-television personality who secured his party’s nomination after Trump’s endorsement earlier this year.
But Fetterman suffered a stroke in May, and his absence from campaigning, coupled with a well-resourced Oz campaign heavily focused on issues like crime and inflation, allowed the former TV host to fill the gap. The latest poll average from Real Clear Politics gives Oz a 0.1 point lead over Fetterman, within error.
Democrats’ hopes of taking the seat were further shaken last week after a televised debate in which Fetterman struggled to speak clearly and appeared to find it difficult to respond to questions.
But the president’s party remains confident that Fetterman can oust Oz on Election Day, thanks in part to tailwinds from Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor, who comfortably ahead of Mastriano in the polls.
The Republican won his party’s nomination with Trump’s endorsement, but Mastriano’s campaign struggled to raise funds and voters appear to dismiss his tough candidacy, which focuses on refusing to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The Fetterman campaign also received a boost this week after Oprah Winfrey, the popular television personality who launched Oz’s entertainment career, endorsed her nominee, saying, “If I lived in Pennsylvania, I would already have my vote for John Fetterman for many reasons delivered. ”
Next week’s midterm elections will have major implications for both political parties, not only on Capitol Hill but also as politicians turn their eyes to the 2024 presidential election. Trump is expected to announce his third White House bid shortly after the midterms, a move that would kickstart the next election cycle and raise new questions about whether other Republicans would question his candidacy.
Biden has not officially said he will seek re-election in two years. But Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to the president, said at an event in Washington earlier this week that initial talks about a future campaign are underway.
https://www.ft.com/content/f2e3678d-1b8c-448f-8fa4-46d3aeb53f40 Biden, Obama and Trump target swing state Pennsylvania ahead of midterms