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Trump needs this pivotal county and its rural voters to win Pennsylvania

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Women and men of all ages arrive well before opening. It is midmorning in the middle of the week, but a lengthy line of people patiently waiting forms outside a country home painted to look like an American flag, near a 14-foot Donald Trump cutout on the front lawn.

The Trump House is a big attraction for the President's supporters in southwest Pennsylvania, where Trump's record turnout four years ago helped deliver his surprise Pennsylvania victory, and the White House.

Independently run by supporters, the house draws out the rural voters who helped Trump win the state four years ago, a feat he hopes to repeat this year.

Trump was the first Republican to win Pennsylvania in nearly three decades.

Now, with the President struggling in the suburbs here and nationwide, the Trump campaign is trying to squeeze even more votes out of his base in places like here in Westmoreland County, which has seen a surge in GOP voter registrations since the President took office.

Finding even more Trump voters in rural Pennsylvania is a steep challenge, considering the President already won far more votes in this part of the state in 2016 than any Republican had in decades.

But at the Trump House, Rossi, who spent countless hours in 2016 pushing disaffected Democrats and never-before voters to choose Trump, says she sees an uptick in passion for the President here.

I want to be with the Republicans right now, because I think Donald Trump is doing an absolutely wonderful job," she said.

In 2016, Clinton, who followed the traditional Pennsylvania playbook of boosting support in the densely populated suburbs, did not campaign in more rural areas like Westmoreland County during the general election.

Trump won Westmoreland County by 56,853 votes.

She and other Democrats in this part of the state are clear-eyed that Trump will still win southwest Pennsylvania, but they hope that keeping the margin of his victory down here could rob the President of a statewide win.

"Donald Trump changed the political game here in Pennsylvania four years ago.

I'm just very thankful that the Democratic Party, Joe Biden has realized that all of these little communities matter," said Cerilli, who added that Biden can't just rely on Philadelphia or Pittsburgh if he wants to win the state.

"One of the most important issues for Pennsylvania is the survival of your fracking industry," Trump told a crowd Tuesday night in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles from Westmoreland County.

There's a lot of jobs in Western Pennsylvania," said Cerilli, calling GOP commercials playing here that claim Biden wants to ban fracking "flat-out lies. "

Part of the get-out-the-vote operation for both parties is educating voters about mail-in ballots, which is new in Pennsylvania this year, to help make it easier for voters in the pandemic.

Westmoreland County Republican Chairman Bill Bretz insists there are more GOP votes to mine in this part of Pennsylvania, but he admits the element of surprise that Trump benefited from here in 2016 is gone.

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