Trump hones law and order message in Pennsylvania

President Donald Trump talks to a crowd of supporters after arriving at Wilmington International Airport, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Wilmington, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump talks to a crowd of supporters after arriving at Wilmington International Airport, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Wilmington, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday honed the “law and order” message he intends to wield for the next two months against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, stepping up attacks that his campaign believes are resonating with battleground state voters.

“Biden’s plan is to appease the domestic terrorists and my plan is to arrest them and prosecute them,” Trump declared at a rally in Pennsylvania — a state that flipped in his favor in 2016, helping to pave his road to victory.

The rally comes as Trump's campaign is claiming new signs of momentum, including in the longtime Democratic stronghold that Trump won by less than 45,000 votes in 2016. After months of trepidation, Trump campaign officials have been feeling encouraged in the last few weeks as Trump has responded to mass demonstrations against racial injustice by taking a hardline against protesters and painting Biden as weak.

Trump was speaking in front of a crowd of hundreds packed into an airport hangar, where people stood closely together and few were seen wearing masks, despite the ongoing pandemic, which has now killed more than 185,000 people and infected more that 6 million nationwide.

Pennsylvania currently restricts indoor gatherings to 25 people and outdoor events to 250 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But Trump has been flouting both local restrictions and his own administration’s social distancing guidelines as he insists on campaigning in front of large crowds and tries to project the image that the virus is waning as he pushes to reopen the economy.

Trump told the crowd that he is “all for” wearing masks, and urged them to be careful during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. White House and public health officials have been eyeing the date warily, concerned that it could fuel another spike in cases, like Memorial Day weekend.

“There’s a tendency of people to be careless, somewhat, with regard to the public health measures that we keep recommending over and over again,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told MSNBC Wednesday, pleading for diligence in adhering to safety measures going into the holiday. Fauci is the government’s top infectious disease expert

At the same time, Trump, who has rarely worn a mask, mocked Biden for wearing one so often.