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Three presidents are coming to Pennsylvania on a big day for one of the most-attended Senate races in the country

Three presidents are coming to Pennsylvania on a big day for one of the most-attended Senate races in the country



CNN

Three presidents – one sitting and two former – are stepping down Pennsylvania Saturday for final-stretch midterm push it underscores the stakes of one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.

For President Joe Bidenwith which he will rarely appear former President Barack Obama in Philadelphia, which was supposed to boost Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Pennsylvania will be a political stress test in his home state, which he has traveled to 20 times since taking office.

For former President Donald Trump, who is rallying outside Pittsburgh in the town of Latrobe, the victory of his handpicked candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz could prove his own lasting viability in the Commonwealth, which he narrowly lost in 2020.

The fallout extends beyond next week’s election. As Trump prepares to announce a third presidential bid, potentially in the coming weeks, Biden aides are taking their own initial steps toward launching a re-election campaign. In a few hours on Saturday afternoon, the dynamics of a a potential rematch in 2020 will be revealed.

The moment marks a historical anomaly. Former presidents usually only have sparingly entered into daily politics, mostly avoiding direct criticism of the men who held the positions they once held. Not since Grover Cleveland in 1892 has a defeated one-term president returned to win the White House again.

The president’s convergence in Pennsylvania, each warning of dire consequences if the other side prevails, reflects the altered norms that Trump accelerated when he took office nearly six years ago, quickly spewing false accusations against Obama of spying and general malfeasance.

Biden, who spent much of his first year in office trying to avoid saying Trump’s name, he is not so careful anymore. He called out “Trump and all his Trumpies” at a rally in California this week and identified Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as “Trump Incarnate” during a fundraiser outside Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday. At his own rallies, Trump plays a video reel of blunders to portray his successor as a gaffe-prone senior citizen — though he didn’t go after Obama as often.

Obama, meanwhile, directed his harshest criticism at a team of Trump-backed candidates, many of whom deny election results in 2020 and were modeled after the 45th president.

“It doesn’t work just because someone was on TV. It turns out that being president or governor is about more than fast lines and good lighting,” Obama said in Arizona Republicans last week Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, former local news anchor.

The Senate and gubernatorial elections in Pennsylvania are the only races in this year’s midterms in which Biden has repeatedly entered. In other high-profile races, candidates have kept their distance from the president with subpar approval ratings.

That’s not true for Obama, who has been in high demand among Democrats in close races. In the final weeks of the campaign, Obama held raucous rallies in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada — all states that Biden has avoided in recent months as the candidates work to stem the Republican swing.

It’s a 180-degree turn from the midterm cycles during Obama’s presidency, when Biden swept several states — including conservative-leaning districts — where the incumbent was seen as a drag on Democratic candidates.

According to officials, Biden is hardly annoyed or even surprised that Obama has been drawn more on the campaign trail this year than he has been. He has discussed some of the races with his former boss and believes Obama’s message resonates with voters and complements his own.

Still, their performance together on Saturday will only serve to highlight their different styles and political abilities — a comparison that even some Democrats say ultimately works in Obama’s favor.

“I know you always ask me how we are. I think we will win this time. I feel very good about our chances,” Biden told reporters Friday in California.

The president was optimistic about Democrats’ chances next week, even as many Democrats are increasingly worried about their party’s prospects. The layout of his campaign — in blue states stalled for candidates in closer-than-expected races — is itself a signal of Democratic vulnerability.

In the final days of the campaign, Biden mostly traveled to blue states he won, but where Democrats are still running closer than expected. He made stops in New Mexico, California and Illinois before dropping into Pennsylvania on Saturday and will campaign with embattled New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday. He will spend election night in Maryland.

People familiar with Biden’s thinking say he accepts that not every Democratic candidate will welcome him as a surrogate while his approval ratings are in the water. And he told fellow Democrats that he respects their political intuitions when it comes to their races.

But he has grown frustrated with reports that he is a political albatross, people familiar with the talks said, arguing that his policies — when properly explained — are widely popular with voters.

Compared to Obama and Trump, Biden held far fewer campaign rallies for his party during this midterm cycle. Most of his engagements over the past month have been official events, delivered to an audience that sometimes numbers only a few dozen.

His rallies began to draw larger crowds in the waning days of the campaign. Six hundred people had to be turned away from an event in Southern California on Friday, according to the White House. And Biden addressed an overflow crowd in New Mexico that couldn’t fit into the main venue when he held a rally with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“I know you don’t think so, but I think we have a pretty good audience. They are quite enthusiastic. You don’t write it that way, but they do,” Biden said as he left California on Friday.

Still, his events didn’t generate the same electricity as Obama’s. The former president has taken a dig at Trump and his aides running for office during his series of rallies across the country in recent weeks, using wry humor and a touch of bewilderment to poke fun at Republicans.

Like Biden, he also argued that America’s system of government is at stake in next week’s election, telling an audience in Arizona that “democracy as we know it” could disappear if pro-choice deniers take power.

Obama and Biden last appeared together at the White House in September, when Obama’s official portrait was unveiled in the East Room of the White House. The event was postponed while Trump was in office, in part because neither Obama nor the Trumps were interested in showing friendship.

As he campaigns for his endorsed nominees this fall, Trump has made little attempt to hide his larger intentions: to shore up his likely presidential campaign, which he hopes will return him to the White House.

“Get ready, that’s all I’m saying,” Trump told a crowd in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday, adding that he was “very, very likely to do it again.”

Trump’s best associates have the third week of November was discussed as an ideal starting point for his 2024 presidential campaign if Republicans do well in the midterm elections, sources familiar with the matter said.

For Biden, the decision might take a little longer. He pointed to family arguments over the holidays when asked about his own timeline. Members of his political team prepared the campaign infrastructure early, assuming he would run again.

His motivational factor, associates say: Whether Trump jumps into himself.



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