Keystone XL Pipeline

Trump reprises his pitch as the only savior for a Rust Belt battleground
Environmental groups call Pennsylvania facility he visited part of a ‘cancer alley’

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pennsylvania on May 20. He was back in the state, his 11th visit in two years, on Tuesday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump interrupted his summer vacation Tuesday to again court Rust Belt voters that helped deliver him the White House, espousing false statements and bold promises as he seeks a second term.

“The political class in Washington gutted … your factories,” Trump told workers at a new Shell-owned petrochemical plant in Beaver County, along the border with Ohio, another perennial swing state he also won in 2016. Trump also blamed other countries for American industrial decline, drawing cheers when he told the audience “they have been screwing us for years.”

How third-party votes sunk Clinton, what they mean for Trump
Libertarians and Greens may try to convince you that higher turnout reflects growing support for their parties. It doesn’t

In the 2016, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton received a smaller percentage of the vote compared to previous major party candidates. That dynamic has ramifications for the 2020 presidential election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For all the talk about why Donald Trump was elected president while losing the popular vote and how he could win again, one of the least discussed results of the 2016 election offers valuable lessons for Democrats.

An astounding 7.8 million voters cast their presidential ballots for someone other than Trump or Hillary Clinton. The two biggest third-party vote-getters were Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson (almost 4.5 million votes) and the Green Party’s Jill Stein (1.5 million voters). But others received almost another 1.9 million votes as well.

Democrats eye Pennsylvania district that became more favorable turf in 2018 redraw
Supreme Court opted not to stop partisan gerrymandering, but Democrats could still gain from state courts

Democrats are optimistic about knocking off Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Scott Perry, who’s running for just the second time in a district that became less favorable to Republicans under a new map. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court’s decision last week not to stop partisan gerrymandering was a blow to congressional Democrats who were hoping several states could see more favorable maps for 2020.

But in at least one state, a new map implemented last year to redress partisan gerrymandering is giving Democrats another 2020 pickup opportunity. That map resulted from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that found the old congressional lines violated the state constitution.  And Democrats are now looking to other state courts in their fight for less partisan maps. 

Get used to talking about Pennsylvania
Political Theater, Episode 74

Hello, Pennsylvania! Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump for a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on Monday, May 20, 2019. The perennial battleground state will go a long way to determining the next president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For pure Political Theater, it will be hard to beat Pennsylvania during the 2020 campaign. The Keystone State will be, well, key to an Electoral College victory. President Donald Trump knows it. That may be why he has visited it six times since taking office, including to Montoursville in the north central part of the state on May 20.

He won’t be alone, though, because the current Democratic frontrunner, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was born in Scranton, represented neighboring Delaware in the Senate for decades and opened his official campaign headquarters in Philadelphia on May 18. Pennsylvania has long been a swing state in presidential politics, and Democrats’ ability to flip several Republican seats in 2018 paved the way for them retaking the majority in the House.

Trump, Biden and the battle for Pennsylvania
‘Biden deserted you,‘ president roars in Montoursville rally, as former veep sets up shop in Philly

Former Vice President Joe Biden removes his jacket at the Eakins Oval in Philadelphia on Saturday as he formally kicks off his 2020 White House bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Three times President Donald Trump mentioned former Vice President and Pennsylvania native Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic front-runner, and three times his crowd of loyalists booed at a rally Monday night in Lycoming County. But it is swing voter-rich places, like the one here in Lehigh County, two hours to the southeast, that will help determine who is president in January 2021.

Biden clearly has attracted the president’s attention since he jumped into his party’s race to take on Trump in the general election.

‘I’ll be here a lot,’ Trump says of Pennsylvania in safe GOP district
President weighs in on special election after Biden kicks off campaign in Keystone State

Supporters of President Donald Trump, pose for a picture while waiting to enter his rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on Monday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

MONTOURSVILLE, Pa. — Air Force One landed here Monday evening ahead of a special House election as AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blared inside an airport hangar. Minutes later, with Air Force One parked in front of small tree-lined peaks, President Donald Trump issued a thunderous endorsement of a GOP House candidate and attack on Democrats.

And repeatedly, the friendly audience showered Trump with chants of “four more years!” And during one rare quiet moment, a man shouted, “We love you, Trump!” Minutes later, the entire crowd, which did not quite fill the hangar, shouted in unison, “We love Trump!”

In Pennsylvania’s Trump country, relief that he’s restoring ‘the old ways’
President rallies supporters amid trade war, home-state son Biden’s entrance

Supporters of President Donald Trump, pose for a picture while waiting to enter his rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The blue and red banners flapped in a late-spring morning breeze along U.S. Highway 15 here, greeting passersby with a simple but unmistakable message: “President Trump is coming.” It is a message Pennsylvanians are likely to see a lot of before the 2020 election, as the Keystone State becomes one of the campaign’s centers of gravity. 

Hours before Air Force One touched down at Williamsport International Airport in neighboring Montoursville, Terri Bruner of Geneva, Ohio, had set up her traveling roadside merchandise stand at the Ridgemont Motel. She was peddling the usual “Make America Great Again” gear, complete with one T-shirt depicting a Trump supporter urinating on the CNN logo and an assortment of pink Trump gear ostensibly aimed at women.

Trump heads to Pennsylvania, where China trade war is hitting home
State leaders: Tariff tussle hurts local manufacturers, farmers and consumers

President Donald Trump, here speaking to reporters on April 27 at the White House, is headed to battleground Pennsylvania on Monday even as his China trade war is hurting farmers and manufacturers there. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump heads to Pennsylvania on Monday evening — another battleground state vital to his chances of winning a second term. But Air Force One will touch down in Montoursville for a campaign rally just when his trade war with China is squeezing many of his core supporters there.

Trump has complicated his own quest to reassemble the Electoral College map he cobbled together in 2016 by slapping tariffs on Chinese-made products, according to political strategists, some lawmakers and state officials. The Keystone State is a prime example as China’s retaliatory levies are hitting its manufacturers, farmers and consumers particularly hard.

When Fritz Hollings ‘made the turn’ as a Southern politician
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 66

Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, then-governor of South Carolina, campaigns with John Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign and helped JFK win South Carolina and six other southern states. Before he left office, Hollings would reverse himself on segregation and call for integration. He went on to serve in the Senate from 1966 until 2005. (CQ Roll Call file photo).

Before the late Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings was elected to what would become a distinguished congressional career, the South Carolina Democrat reversed himself on the defining issue in Southern politics: segregation. 

Running for governor in 1958, Hollings opposed integration, a keystone battle in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision desegregating public schools. But by the end of his term, he said it was time for the South to change, taking a step out of line with many of his Democratic colleagues in the region. 

An overeager legal strategy may endanger Trump’s energy goals
In haste to pass its “energy dominance” agenda, the administration has suffered dozens of losses in court

Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and ranking member Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are seen before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on “electricity sector in a changing climate” on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was unhappy with an April 5 ruling by Sharon Gleason, a federal judge in Anchorage, Alaska, who found that President Donald Trump had unlawfully lifted a ban prohibiting drilling in the Arctic Ocean, dealing the president’s fossil-fuel energy agenda a major blow.

“I strongly disagree with this ruling,” said Murkowski, who wants to open her state’s land and water to increased oil and gas leasing. “I expect this decision to be appealed and ultimately overturned.”