HARRISBURG, Pa. – President Donald Trump's campaign has grown increasingly focused on making inroads in Pennsylvania to offset potential vulnerabilities in other battlegrounds.
The president will travel to the state for the second time in a week on Saturday, hoping to attract the same rural and white working-class voters who delivered him a narrow victory here in 2016. The in-person touch, in what may become the most important battleground on the map, complements an aggressive get-out-the-vote operation that has been working for four years to find new voters by knocking on doors in competitive neighborhoods.
Trump narrowly flipped three Great Lakes states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — from blue to red in 2016. He has virtually no path to reelection without keeping at least one of those states in his column. His campaign has long viewed Wisconsin as his best option, but aides who requested anonymity to discuss strategy said their thinking has begun to shift.
There are growing concerns inside the campaign, the aides said, about Trump's ability to retain Wisconsin. Even winning that upper Midwest battleground wouldn't provided the needed votes if Trump's Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, claims Arizona.
But Pennsylvania would be enough.
“With Pennsylvania, I don’t have to make a play, we’ve got Pennsylvania,” boasted Trump at a rally Tuesday night just outside Pittsburgh.
That may be harder than Trump suggests.
Despite fervent Republican efforts, no GOP nominee since George H.W. Bush in 1988 had captured the state until Trump did four years ago, winning by just 44,000 votes out of nearly 5.9 million votes cast. And as someone born in Scranton, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is also heavily focused on the state.