There Is Still Hope in the Heartland

Brilliant yellow maple trees surround my mother-in-law’s home in rural Ohio and the roads in her part of the state are lined not only with the colorful foliage of late October but also with signs expressing support for President Trump’s election. Anyone can look at the results from 2016 and see that Trump racked up majorities of 2-to-1 or more in this part of Ohio — 72 percent in Morrow County, 71 percent in Crawford County, 67 percent in Knox County, 66 percent in Richland County, 64 percent in Marion County. In fact, Trump won 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties four years ago, defeating Hillary Clinton by an eight-point margin statewide.

If you believe the polls, Joe Biden is neck-and-neck with Trump in Ohio. Three recent polls (New York Times, Quinnipiac, Rasmussen) showed Biden with a one-point lead, and the current Real Clear Politics average of Ohio polls has Trump ahead with a margin of less than one percentage point. But nobody believes the polls, especially when the numbers are starkly contradicted by on-the-ground evidence like the proliferation of roadside Trump signs. There is an unmistakable enthusiasm gap between the two presidential campaigns — Trump drawing tens of thousands of cheering supporters to his rallies, while only dozens show up for the rare events when Biden ventures out of his Delaware basement.

Even if the polls are garbage, however, Trump is not taking Ohio for granted. He held a Saturday rally in Pickaway County, south of Columbus, where he told the crowd, “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.” Indeed, no Republican has ever been elected president without Ohio, and only two Democrats (Grover Cleveland and John F. Kennedy) won the White House without carrying Ohio. Pickaway County is another of those where Trump beat Hillary more than 2-to-1 four years ago, and the president sought to energize his supporters to drive turnout: “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.”

His Ohio rally was one of four appearances in four states — voting in Florida, holding rallies in North Carolina and Wisconsin — the president made Saturday, and his schedule Sunday included events in New Hampshire and Maine. Trump’s relentless circuit of public appearances offers a powerful visual contrast to Biden’s basement campaign. This is not a coincidence; rather, it is a strategic part of his reelection message. Trump’s appearances convey an image of fearless strength, as Legal Insurrection writer Mike LaChance remarked on Twitter: “Two weeks ago Trump had COVID-19. Today he did three rallies in three different states. The man is a machine.”

Against that one-man campaign machine, Democrats have marshalled a massive blitz of attack ads, while their feeble candidate either hides away from reporters — Biden called another “lid” on campaign appearances Sunday morning — or barks angrily whenever confronted by anyone who dares try to ask him a real question. A reporter for a local TV station attempted to do some actual journalism Saturday in Pennsylvania. “Questions and controversy continue today about Hunter Biden, your son,” WYOU-TV’s Andy Mehalshick began, but didn’t get any further before the former vice president cut him off. “There is no controversy about my son,” Biden said. “That’s a hell of a lie. That’s a flat lie because the president has nothing else to run on.”

“No controversy”? Keep in mind that the Biden family’s involvement with a Ukrainian oligarch’s natural-gas company was directly related to Nancy Pelosi’s push for impeachment of President Trump, and that emails reportedly discovered on Hunter Biden’s laptop offer further evidence of what appears, at the very least, to be a conflict of interest by the former vice president. Reports of what else was found on Hunter’s laptop raise all sorts of questions about Biden’s integrity and character, and yet none of those questions are being asked by the establishment media. Meanwhile, Twitter has locked down the New York Post’s account in an effort to suppress the story, which nevertheless remains one of the hottest topics on the Internet.

What the media and Big Tech are doing is to protect Biden from scrutiny or criticism. This was evident in last week’s debate, when moderator Kristen Welker interrupted Trump 24 times, while interrupting Biden only twice. Trump’s two biggest scores in the debate came not in response to Welker’s questions, but when he himself pushed forward on issues, first on the “laptop from hell” and then on Biden’s plan to destroy the American petroleum industry. If you read the transcript of the debate, you’ll notice that after Welker had given Biden a chance to claim his son’s dealings in China and Ukraine were entirely legitimate, she then attempted to pivot away by asking Trump a different question. Later in the debate, however, Trump brought up “the laptop from hell” again, to which Biden responded that “what he’s accusing me of is a Russian plant.” This gave Trump a chance to express astonishment: “You mean the laptop is now another Russia, Russia, Russia hoax? You got to be kidding me.”

Keep in mind that the three major broadcast networks — NBC, ABC, and CBS — have endeavored mightily to pretend that the “laptop from hell” doesn’t exist. For Trump to insert it into the debate, and thus force Biden to claim it was “a Russian plant,” gave millions of Americans their first knowledge of a story the media is trying to ignore. Likewise, Trump jumped on Biden’s climate-change proposals as a “pipe dream” that will “kill the economy” before asking, “And what about fracking?” Welker tried to interrupt, but Biden took the bait:

Biden: “I never said I oppose fracking.”

Donald Trump: “You said it on tape.”

Joe Biden: “Show the tape, put it on your website.”

Donald Trump: “I’ll put it on.”

Joe Biden: “Put it on the website. The fact of the matter is he’s flat lying.”

Of course, it was Biden who was lying, and the president’s campaign immediately posted video of the multiple times he’s promised to end fracking, a process that is crucial to the energy industry in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, among other places. Biden went further, promising to “transition” away from the oil industry toward “net zero emissions.” Translation: No more oil. No more gas. No more coal. No more fossil fuels, period.

Perhaps doubling-down on this radical “green” message was Biden’s effort to appease the kook-fringe elements of the extreme Left, but it seems unlikely to help him win back working-class voters who four years ago flipped Pennsylvania into the GOP column for the first time since 1988. Of course, if you believe the polls, Biden’s got Pennsylvania in the bag. Five of the last six polls in the state show him at 50 percent or more, and Biden leads by 5.1 points in the Real Clear Politics average of Pennsylvania polls. The problem with that, of course, is that four years ago, on October 26, 2016, the RCP average showed Hillary Clinton leading Trump by 5.3 points in Pennsylvania.

Is there any reason to believe that polls this year are more accurate than they were in 2016? Clearly, the Trump campaign doesn’t think so, which is the only explanation for why the president was campaigning Sunday in New Hampshire, a state with only four Electoral College votes, where polls show Biden with a double-digit lead. During his rally, Trump taunted “Sleepy Joe” as a “low-energy” candidate who left New Hampshire before the state’s Democratic primary in February, where Biden placed a dismal fifth, behind Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren. “Sleepy Joe Biden doesn’t care about New Hampshire. … He abandoned you,” Trump told the crowd in Londonderry, N.H., at a rally where he also talked about his own experience with COVID-19. After being treated at Walter Reed Hospital, the president said, “I felt so good, I felt like Superman. I wanted to get back. I didn’t want to cancel anything.” The crowd responded by chanting, “Super Trump!”

Yes, that’s him — stronger than a Chinese virus, more powerful than any poll! It is this image of unstoppable strength that Trump is conveying with his non-stop campaign schedule in the final week before Election Day. While “Sleepy Joe” continues hiding in his Delaware basement, Trump will do three — count ’em, three — rallies Monday in Pennsylvania, then travel on to Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska on Tuesday. The choice Trump wants to present voters is between his strength versus Biden’s weakness and, as the New York Post’s Kyle Smith remarked, the essence of Biden’s agenda is “making America weak again.”

Not only would Biden forfeit everything that the Trump administration has gained in terms of promoting America’s energy independence, but he has promised to raise taxes and end the policy of deregulation that boosted our national economy. Most of all, Biden’s central message is to exploit fear of the coronavirus, promising a nationwide facemask mandate and endless lockdowns as the “scientific” response. During last week’s debate, Biden warned of a “dark winter” ahead, and Saturday he disparaged Trump for continuing to hold public rallies, saying the president was “going around the country holding these great spreaders of more virus.” Oh, the virus is all Trump’s fault — be afraid!

Maybe the polls are right. Maybe “Sleepy Joe” will win Pennsylvania and carry New Hampshire by double-digit margin. Start doing a little Electoral College math, however, and you realize that flipping Pennsylvania wouldn’t be enough to put Biden in the White House, nor would Michigan and Wisconsin get him past 270 Electoral College votes. Maybe if he could also flip Florida, Biden would be in the game, but there are indications Trump has actually gained strength in Florida, wooing a greater share of the Latino vote since he carried the Sunshine State with a 110,000-vote margin four years ago. If Trump wins Florida, Biden’s path to the White House becomes a long shot, no matter what the national polls say.

History tells us that Biden probably can’t be elected president without winning Ohio, and I don’t need to consult any polls on that subject. I just got back from Ohio, where I’ve seen the Trump signs lining those highways. Some Republicans are already convinced Trump will lose, but there is still hope in the heartland.

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Author: Robert Stacy McCain

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