Trump Is Visiting Pennsylvania Today. Here’s What You Need to Know.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

By Kimberly Lawson

May 14, 2020

The president’s visit to the Lehigh Valley is his first since he took office.

President Trump plans to visit the Lehigh Valley Thursday to tour a 137-year-old medical equipment distribution company whose work has been vital in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Owens & Minor in Upper Macungie Township manufactures, loads, and ships personal protective equipment.

According to CBS Philadelphia, the president also plans to use his visit to announce a new initiative called the Strategic National Stockpile 2.0, which, according to the media outlet, would “implement new technology, increase supplies and ask private companies to store supplies in an effort to become less reliant on China.”

Thursday’s trip has sparked some speculation about Trump’s intentions—it is his first to the Lehigh Valley since he became president. The area has been one of the hardest hit in the state by the coronavirus. And, as the Inquirer points out, it could be key for Trump as he seeks a second term.

“Its importance is as great as ever,” Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion in Allentown, told the Inquirer. “It’s always been one of the swing regions in the state, and so this visit is the perfect kind of staged event in the perfect location at a time when he so desperately wants to get out on the trail.”

Trump won Pennsylvania by a mere 44,000 votes four years ago. But in a backlash against him, in 2018 the area voted for a Democrat to represent it in Congress for the first time in two decades.

State Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat representing the 3rd District, also suggested to CBS Philadelphia that the president may take the opportunity to push for the state to reopen prematurely.

“What the constituents of Pennsylvania want is freedom from the virus, that’s what they want,” Evans said. “Because just like in the White House, everybody gets tested there while everybody in Pennsylvania who wants to be tested, who can be tested, should be tested.”

As of Thursday, the state Department of Health had documented 59,636 cases of coronavirus and 4,218 related deaths.

Trump’s visit also comes days after he appeared to take aim at the measured way Gov. Tom Wolf has handled reopening.

Wolf is under increasing pressure to roll back coronavirus restrictions after effectively containing the state’s outbreak early on, battling a Republican revolt over his stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns. Counties have threatened to defy his orders while at least a few business owners have reopened their doors despite his warnings.

“The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!”

Later, Wolf responded to the president’s tweet by pointing out that “the irresponsible thing to do … is to just willy-nilly go off and pretend that we can wave a magic wand and go back into business and suspend the reality to this virus that’s surrounding us.”

Additional reporting from the Associated Press.




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