Thousands of Trump supporters swelled the Pickaway County fairgrounds on a chilly Saturday, even as Ohio State held its first football game of the season. The president’s visit to Circleville was part of a last minute swing through four battleground states.
With a week and a half to go until Election Day, the presidential race in Ohio appears to be neck-and-neck. That’s a significant departure from the result in 2016, when Trump won the state by 8 points. And the president’s choice of venue stands out as a stark indicator of that shift—Trump won Pickaway County by more than 40 points last election.
But in his remarks, Trump didn’t do much to modulate his message. Notably, his baseless about voter fraud through absentee ballots were absent. Instead, Trump encouraged attendees to get out and vote early.
“For the last four years you have seen me fight for you, and now I am relying on you to deliver another historic victory for our country—it goes through Ohio,” Trump said. “Vote early. Bring your friends, your families, your neighbors, your co-workers. Get your boss to go, I don’t care. But you have to get out and vote, everybody has to get out and vote.”
Earlier, when Trump asked how many had already voted, hands shot up throughout the crowd.
The remainder of Trump’s speech was a heavy dose of economic and law and order appeals, studded with familiar but unsubstantiated red-meat attacks against his opponent.
“Biden and the Democrats will off-shore your jobs, dismantle your police departments, dissolve your borders, confiscate your guns—Second Amendment, they’re after it,” Trump told the crowd to a round of boos.
He also made dubious claims about COVID-19, saying, “It’s going away, it’s rounding the turn,” as states like Ohio break records for biggest increases in new coronavirus cases.
Trump also took credit for a tank plant in Lima staying open.
“I said if we ever close this plant, you’ll never be able to get the skill, the talent or a facility to do this,” Trump said. “I’m not going to buy our tanks from China.”
Others have argued the plant wasn’t in danger of closing, with Congress continuing to order more tanks over the objection of military brass.
Even as the president argued he’d accomplished more than any other administration, he continued to portray himself as an outsider, crusading against the establishment.
“If I don’t always pay by the rules of the Washington establishment," Trump said, "it’s because I was elected to fight for you and I’m fighting for you harder than any president has ever fought.”