Since the late 1980’s, Pennsylvania has rarely been a true presidential election swing state. But as both sides of the aisle — more so the Republican party — fight to their respective conventions, our state will actually play a critical role tomorrow when voters head to the polls.
And we’ve felt that. Every presidential candidate still in the race has been to our state multiple times to hold rallies or give speeches or meet with interest groups. Here are nine ~memories~ from the presidential campaign trail here in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (and we’ll update this if anything crazy happens today and tomorrow):
1. Central PA loses it over Cruz
Ohio Gov. John Kasich spoke right before him, but Sen. Ted Cruz was the star of the show at a gathering of ultra-conservatives in Camp Hill, Pa. on April Fool’s Day. There was religious insignia, signs about Gov. Tom Wolf’s “Bathroom Bill” and a brochure title “I WAS ‘GAY.’” But the audience lost their minds just to be in the mere presence of Cruz, who did well to diss President Obama and prop up himself.
The conservatives loved him. At least more than Kasich, who they called “progressive.”
2. A little boy wants Kasich to defeat ISIS
Kasich visited Villanova in mid-March to hold a town hall of sorts, but by far the question that grabbed the most applause of the day came from Jack Shapiro, an 11-year-old boy who Kasich invited on stage with him. Everyone assumed the kid would throw Kasich a softball question; instead, Shapiro grabbed the microphone, looked up to Kasich and said: “In terms of your strategy for defeating ISIS, to what extent will American personnel be involved?”
Kasich, clearly surprised by the question, answered that Americans will be involved in fighting the Islamic State if he’s elected to the White House, describing the group as “evil” and “the sickest group of people we’ve ever seen.”
“Whether they like it or not, the world depends on us,” he told the boy. “Sometimes we have to do more than we think we should and sometimes more than we want to.”
3. Donald Trump says some things about Joe Paterno
At a campaign rally in Pittsburgh earlier this month, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump randomly brought up the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
“How’s Joe Paterno? Are we going to bring that back?” Trump asked, in an apparent reference to the statue of the legendary coach taken down after the school’s sex scandal. Regardless, the comment drew rousing cheers. Paterno died in January 2012 of complications from lung cancer.
The next day, the plot thickened. A Trump spokeswoman said the presidential candidate was referring to the bronze statue outside Beaver Stadium that “they melted down.”
Small problem: As far as anyone knows, that didn’t happen. And the idea that the statute *was* melted appears to have stemmed from a satirical April Fool’s Day post on student news website Onward State.
4. Bernie throws shade at Hillary in Philly
You think Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president? Bernie Sanders sure doesn’t think so. That’s what he told a crowd of thousands of people at a Temple University rally in early April. The Vermont senator claimed Clinton had said he’s “not qualified” for the presidency (though PolitiFact rated his claim Mostly False).
“Secretary Clinton appears to be getting a little bit nervous,” he told the crowd at Temple. “She has been saying that she thinks I am quote, unquote not qualified to be president… I don’t believe that she is qualified.”
He went on to list reasons she’s not qualified: Supporting the war in Iraq, being in favor of “disastrous” trade agreements and taking millions of dollars from Wall Street through her Super PAC.
5. Bill Clinton vs. protesters in Philly
Former president Bill Clinton was trying to stump for his wife during a campaign stop in Mount Airy. Instead, he was arguing with protesters, defending his controversial crime bill from the 1990s and, later, ending up on national news for it. When two protesters from the Philadelphia Coalition for Real Justice started heckling Clinton about mass incarceration during his talk, he handed it right back to them.
“See here’s the thing, I like protesters, but the ones that won’t let you answer are afraid of truth,” he said. “They say the welfare reform bill increased poverty. Then why did we have the largest drop in African American poverty in history when I was president?”
Yelling continued, Clinton made a weird statement about how Black Lives Matter in Africa and then insinuated the protesters were defending criminals.
“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out into the street to murder other African American children,” he told the protesters from the podium. “Maybe you thought they were good citizens — [Hillary Clinton] didn’t.”
6. In Allentown, Trump is voting Cruz — well, kinda
In Allentown last week, Cruz met voters, including Trump — a man named Michael Trump — who told the Texas senator he’s leaning toward voting for him.
Here’s how MSNBC described the interaction:
Putting his hand on Trump’s shoulder, Cruz asked, “So are you with me?”
“On the fence right now, but I’m leaning your way, Senator Cruz,” the Pennsylvania man responded. Cruz promptly turned him toward the press cameras: “If I can do this without embarrassing you, I do want to point out that Mr. Trump is leaning towards voting for me.”
7. Clinton and Sanders spar over soda tax
So this didn’t technically happen *in* Philadelphia, but it is very much about Philadelphia. Both Secretary Clinton and Sen. Sanders have weighed in on Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed soda tax, and it’s one of the few issues the two are completely opposite on. Clinton supports the tax that funds universal pre-K in Philadelphia, while Sanders called it “regressive” and doesn’t support the tax that could disproportionately impact low-income residents.
Kenney defended his proposal, writing in a short letter in the Huffington Post that Sanders was siding with “greedy beverage corporations” in not supporting the tax, something that clearly doesn’t jibe with Sanders’ anti-big-money message. Sanders then appeared as the author on an op-ed in Philadelphia Magazine that appeared this weekend, further pushing his stance that a soda tax would hurt low-income families.
“Mayor Kenney deserves praise for emphasizing the importance of universal pre-kindergarten,” the op-ed read. “But at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it should be the people on top who see an increase in their taxes, not low-income and working people.”
8. At Fishtown rally, Clinton tackles gun violence
After attending a discussion about gun violence in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton made an appearance for a rally at The Fillmore, a new-ish event space in Fishtown.
“You had 12 shootings in Philadelphia over the weekend, four people killed, a police officer shot and the story that was so heartbreaking was the father handling his gun and it went off and killed his 4 year old daughter,” she told the crowd. She then offered suggestions about curbing drug addiction, treating mental health and getting guns out of the hands of criminals.
9. Donald Trump rallies, in general
Trump loves Philadelphia. At least, that’s what he said during a campaign stop for a massive rally in Harrisburg at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex last week. The Donald was in usual form with his talking points: bringing back jobs to Pennsylvania, building that wall Mexico “will pay for” and beating his opponents like “crooked Hillary” and “Lyin’ Ted Cruz.”
Thousands of people lined up for hours to get into the rally while another six or seven were kicked out of the event for protesting while Trump encouraged it, saying “aren’t Trump rallies fun?” and comparing his own events to rock concerts. Before the end of the show, Trump had told a protester to “go home to mom,” said everyone should yell at the “dishonest” media and encouraged voters to not go out to vote unless they’d be voting for him.
Oh, and don’t miss out on Trump rally fashion tips. They’re vital.