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Campaigns To Bring Dueling Messages To Pennsylvania This Week

Cliff Owen

Vice President Mike Pence will make another law-and-order-themed pitch in the presidential battleground of Pennsylvania, as former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign brings its own school-themed event to the state.

On Thursday, Pence will address a “cops for Trump” campaign event at Greensburg Police Department, in Westmoreland County, where President Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton two-to-one in 2016's election.

After that, Pence will speak at the headquarters of a maker of industrial sealants and adhesives in nearby Somerset, another Republican stronghold in a region that once supported conservative Democrats.

The event, focused on economic recovery from the pandemic, is organized by America First Policies, a pro-Trump nonprofit started in 2017 by Trump loyalists and associated with the America First Action super PAC supporting Trump’s reelection.

On Tuesday, Jill Biden will join U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Nina Esposito-Vigitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, for an online discussion on how to safely reopen schools amid the pandemic.

Their discussion comes as the Pittsburgh School District — Pennsylvania's second-largest after Philadelphia — considers a proposal to postpone in-class instruction for the first nine-weeks of school. The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, which has endorsed Biden for president.

Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by less than 1 percentage point. His shocking victory in the state helped pave his way to the White House, and shifted Pennsylvania's electoral votes to the Republican column for the first time since 1988.

No Democrat has won the presidency without winning Pennsylvania since Harry S. Truman in 1948.

Pence appeared earlier this month at an event with Philadelphia police, as Trump tries to win over suburbanites by promising to protect their neighborhoods from the racial unrest that has gripped some U.S. cities this summer.

In the police event, the Trump campaign says Pence will “reaffirm the Trump administration’s commitment to always back the blue and condemn Joe Biden for his embrace of the far-left ‘defund the police’ movement.”

However, that claim is not accurate. Biden has not joined the call of protesters who demanded “defund the police” after George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis. Rather, he has proposed more money for police, conditioned to improvements in their practices.

Specifically, he is calling for a $300 million infusion into existing federal community policing grant programs, adding up to more money for police.

In a statement, the state Democratic Party accused Pence of returning to Pennsylvania “because the Trump administration is desperate to distract from its failed COVID-19 response" and said Trump's loyalists should get to work helping the sick and jobless.

“We don’t need any more photo ops, we need the White House to stop ignoring public health experts, undermining testing, and pushing schools to reopen before it’s safe to do so,” the party said.