President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden both dropped references to Pennsylvania during their second and final debate Thursday night.
The commonwealth — which many political analysts say is crucial to win for both Trump and Biden — was among the most talked–about states during the roughly 95-minute debate, with references to Pennsylvania’s working-class families, fracking and the economy.
During a lengthy exchange on the recent spike in COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and around the country, Trump defended his handling of the pandemic, which has led to the deaths of more than 222,000 people in the U.S., including almost 8,600 in Pennsylvania. He claims if elected, Biden will shut down the economy again; Biden has said he will listen to the advice of public health experts.
“When you say spike, take a look at what’s happened in Pennsylvania, where they’ve had to close,” Trump said.
State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine has repeatedly said there are no plans for new COVID–19 mitigation shutdown orders. The state has reported over 3,400 new infections in the past two days.
At other times during the debate, Biden drew on his Pennsylvania and Delaware roots. At one point, during a discussion about China’s role in the coronavirus crisis, Trump brought up an unproven claim that Biden’s son Hunter Biden involved his father in business dealings in China.
Biden responded by talking about the struggles facing middle-class families due to the pandemic, saying, “… the middle–class families like I grew up (with) in Scranton and Claymont, they’re in trouble. We should be talking about your families, but that’s the last thing he wants to talk about.”
The conversation also touched on fracking and carbon emissions, both key issues in Pennsylvania because of its natural gas and coal industries. Trump has argued environmental regulation will cut economic growth, and said Biden’s policies would hurt the oil and gas industry.
Biden cited a Moody’s report that said his climate plan, including a transition to a cleaner economy, would create more jobs than Trump’s economic policies.
“We can grow, and we can be cleaner if we go the route I’m proposing,” Biden said.
Trump has incorrectly said Biden wants to ban fracking; Biden‘s position is to stop leasing new oil and gas rights on federal land. Biden said during the debate that he has ruled out a ban on fracking, but would push for phasing out fracking and oil over time in favor of renewable energy.
“Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania?” Trump said.
The two men are expected to visit Pennsylvania in the coming days. Recent polls show Biden with anywhere between a 6– and 10–point lead over Trump in the state.
Get daily updates from WHYY News!