From left, Donald Trump (Photo: Flickr) and Joe Biden (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Biden v. Trump: The Fight for Pennsylvania Is On

On April 13, Donald Trump was in tiny Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, population 3,800, in Lehigh Valley, rallying white MAGA voters with a range of racist tropes, personal grievances and invented historical narratives featuring Gettysburg, Confederate Army leader Robert E. Lee, Lincoln and himself.

On Monday, the history was real as Trump sat in a Manhattan courtroom, the first U.S. president to face criminal prosecution, accused of paying off adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep their affair secret so as not to upset prospective voters prior to the 2016 election. At issue is election interference and fraud for which Trump faces 34 felony counts.

While Trump was alternatively snoozing and seething in the courtroom where he is legally required to be present for the next weeks of choosing jurors and then the so-called “hush money” trial itself, President Joe Biden is doing a three-day blitz through Pennsylvania that will include events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania is a must-win state come November to capture the White House. The 2020 election pivoted on Pennsylvania, with Philadelphia votes securing the state on an unseasonably warm Nov. 7 that brought revelers to Broad Street like the city had won the Super Bowl. Pennsylvania clinched the election for President Obama in 2008 and again in 2012 while it was one of the three swing states Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.

On Tuesday, Biden was in Scranton, cracking jokes about Trump and generally at ease in his hometown. Biden posted a video about Scranton on his Twitter/X account, noting, “Growing up in Scranton, this community taught me the values of family, honesty, hard work, and fighting for the little guy. I’ve never forgotten them.”

It’s a stark contrast with Trump and one Hillary Clinton highlighted on April 15 — Tax Day — tweeting, “On this Tax Day, look at the beneficiaries of Trump’s tax cuts from 2017. You’ll see who he really cares about — and who he’ll leave in the dust again if re-elected.”

Biden hopes to capitalize on just such contrasts — plus where Trump is spending his time — without mentioning Trump much. Instead, Biden will focus on the critical differences between his administration and Trump’s and the work he’s doing while Trump faces trial after trial.

Biden is highlighting his economic agenda and his support for working people, as well as his intentions to protect abortion rights, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights and further his climate crisis agenda. The Biden-Harris record is strong, but there’s been a consistent gap between what they have accomplished and what is perceived by voters.

When Trump was in Schnecksville, where a large crowd waited in line for three hours to see him, Biden was dealing with a possible global crisis. Iran had attacked Israel in a retaliatory missile and drone strike in response to Israel’s earlier attack on an Iranian embassy, taking out Hamas figures tied to Iran.

That juxtaposition made for some strange moments at the Schnecksville event when the crowd chanted “Genocide Joe,” a rallying cry usually associated with far-left pro-Palestinian protesters. In response, Trump said, “They’re not wrong, they’re not wrong. He’s done everything wrong.”

That chanting highlighted a difficult issue for Biden that will likely follow him throughout the primary and possibly into November.

Those chants may have been ignored by the Biden camp, which was trying to contain an increasingly rogue Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but it was not ignored by either the media nor leftists themselves, many of whom are considering ways to vote “uncommitted” in the Pennsylvania primary April 23. Uncommitted PA is aiming for 40,000 write-in votes in the primary — the number of votes by which Hillary Clinton lost the state in 2016 and half of what Biden won by in 2020.

Uncommitted PA, funded by Democratic Socialists of America and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee, is calling for “An immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, an end to the siege of Gaza, reinstating of humanitarian aid and UNRWA funding and an end to U.S. aid to Israel.”

While the Biden administration has been negotiating for a ceasefire for weeks and has been providing humanitarian aid via food drops while demanding Israel allow more aid into Gaza and protect aid workers making deliveries, the U.S. remains — and will remain under any administration — Israel’s ally.

But even the Senate Majority Leader, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, called for new elections in Israel, warning Netanyahu has “lost his way” as a leader. That speech from the floor of the Senate was decried by both Netanyahu and Republican senators. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the suggestion “grotesque” and “foreign interference.”

Yet in a March 24 interview with ABC News, Vice President Kamala Harris said there could be “consequences” for Israel if it moves ahead with a planned invasion of Rafah.

“Let me tell you something: I have studied the maps. There’s nowhere for those folks to go,” Harris told ABC’s Rachel Scott.

Scott asked, “Are you ruling out that there would be consequences from the United States?”

“I am ruling out nothing,” Harris said.

This is the political tightrope being navigated by the Biden administration while Trump plays fast and loose with facts, history and sometimes even reality at rallies like that in Schnecksville where he called Biden “crooked Joe” and “a tyrant” and said “everything he touches turns to sh*t.”

The disconnect between the chants, Trump’s response and Trump’s actual stance on Israel is confusing — and also signals how Trump has little consistent focus for his campaign. As Biden has moved left on the Gaza issue and Harris still further left, Trump is singularly on the right. He supports Israel and has stated that position repeatedly — including in Schnecksville. At the rally Trump said, “Before going any further, I wanna say: God bless the people of Israel. They’re under attack right now, because we show great weakness.”

And unlike Biden, who has an increasingly contentious relationship with Netanyahu as he makes more demands on the intransigent leader, Trump has long been a Netanyahu ally and has reiterated that position over the six-month course of the war Trump insists would never have happened under his administration.

The Israel-Hamas war is not the most concerning issue for Democrats and Independents overall, but it has captivated the focus of voters under age 30 who Biden needs to win and who are increasingly outraged by the horrifying scenes of devastation and desperation out of Gaza. Biden has also had fractious exchanges with Muslim Americans and some Muslim Americans in Congress have called for uncommitted voting in the primary.

Yet as Biden moves further left and is less supportive and more demanding of Israel, he also risks losing Jewish voters, the vast majority of whom remain committed to Israel.

Where Biden hopes to contain and expand votes is among voters of color, LGBTQ voters, and women voters of all demographics who are unsettled by abortion bans and bans on reproductive options. Biden is unquestionably the most pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ+ president in history, while Harris has made abortion rights her cri de coeur.

Trump — who has continued to attack the woman he was found liable of raping and defaming, E. Jean Carroll — has wavered on reproductive rights, taking credit for overturning Roe, but watching voters balk at the increasingly restrictive abortion bans in the states which Trump previously championed. He has backed off a national abortion ban, claiming he won’t sign one if elected.

Trump has also enlisted his rarely seen wife, Melania, in his re-election efforts. The former First Lady will be hosting her first major political event of the year — a fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans on April 20 at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Florida club where she and Trump live. The group’s president, Charles T. Moran, said that Richard Grenell, Trump’s former ambassador to Germany, will also be part of the event. Log Cabin Republicans describes itself as the nation’s largest Republican organization dedicated to representing LGBT conservatives and allies.

According to Politico, Melania Trump has “long maintained a close relationship with the Log Cabin Republicans.” In 2021, Melania was the special guest at a dinner the group hosted at Mar-a-Lago, and received an award. Trump spoke at an event the organization hosted at the club in 2022.

The New York Times reports that Melania received a $250,000 payment from the group in December 2022. Log Cabin Republicans posted a thank you on Twitter several days after a private dinner event writing, “We are so thankful for the continued support of former First Lady @MELANIATRUMP for our organization and her leadership continuing the projects she worked on while in the White House.”

The April 20 fundraiser is the launch for the Log Cabin group’s “Road to Victory” program for Trump which will target voters in swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona.

For now the national split screen continues: While Biden works his decades-long connections in Pennsylvania ahead of the April 23 primary, Trump tests the patience of the judge, his own lawyers and the voters as the polling remains tight and only a handful of states will decide who wins the White House in November.

Story courtesy of Philadelphia Gay News via the National LGBTQ Media Association. The National LGBTQ Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: