Trump Brings 2024 Campaign To The Jersey Shore

John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

The Garden State is not often in the national spotlight for a presidential election, but former President Donald Trump brought his campaign here on Saturday, holding a rally on a South Jersey beach not far from Pennsylvania.

“As you can see, today, we’re expanding the electoral maps because we are going to officially play in the state of New Jersey. We’re going to win the state of New Jersey,” Trump told the crowd, standing on a stage before a backdrop of carnival rides. “Millions of people in so-called blue states are joining our movement based on love, intelligence and a thing called common sense.”

Trump began Saturday’s rally more than an hour after his scheduled 5 p.m. start time, and spoke for about 90 minutes. During his remarks, he touched on familiar topics, like his hush-money trial in New York, where this week adult film star Stormy Daniels testified about an alleged sexual encounter, which Trump has denied.  He also repeated unfounded claims that the 2020 election was “rigged.”

Trump made several local references as well; he invited New Jersey GOP U.S. Rep. Jeff van Drew on stage, calling him a “star.” He also said he would “stand up to radical Marxist DAs” like Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney, who has been the target of significant ire from Pennsylvania’s GOP.

With less than six months until the general election, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have made numerous visits to Pennsylvania. Over the past several weeks, Trump has largely been sidelined from campaigning by the trial in New York.

Saturday was Trump’s first rally in New Jersey in 2024, but he’s campaigned in the state in previous cycles. In January 2020, Trump held a rally in Wildwood’s Convention Center and blasted Democrats for their effort to impeach him.

Carrying New Jersey is not likely for Trump, according to national outlets like the Cook Political Report which rates the state as “solid Democratic.” New Jersey has not voted for a Republican candidate for president since 1988 and Trump lost the state by double digits both times he was his party’s nominee for president.

However, an Emerson College poll matching Biden and Trump against each other conducted in late March showed Biden only leading Trump by 7 points in New Jersey, while 15% of those polled were undecided. Biden led Trump by 5 points when that poll included third party candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jill Stein, and Cornel West. It remains to be seen which third-party candidates will make the ballot in New Jersey.

Even if New Jersey is not on the radar of most pundits for the election, Wildwood is a popular destination for vacationers in the Philadelphia region and Trump’s rally will attract those from the crucial Keystone State and media coverage from the market.

Trump’s most recent appearance in Pennsylvania was on April 13 when he attended a fundraiser in Bucks County and held a rally in purple Lehigh Valley. He’s visited Pennsylvania three times in 2024, including a surprise Philadelphia appearance at Sneaker Con in February.

Over the past week, Trump has held interviews with media outlets in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey markets, including a television interview with Harrisburg-based WGAL and radio interviews with TalkRadio 1210 WPHT Philadelphia and New Jersey 101.5.

Trump received some promising numbers this week in Pennsylvania with polling conducted by AARP Pennsylvania and Muhlenberg College showing him with a slight lead over Biden, while U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) holds his advantage over Republican challenger David McCormick.

Biden has visited Pennsylvania three times since Trump’s most recent appearance in the state, with campaign events in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Scranton, bringing the president’s total number of 2024 trips to the Keystone State to seven.

On Wednesday, Harris held a campaign event in the Philadelphia suburbs where she was joined by actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph to discuss abortion and reproductive rights.

As of late April, Biden’s campaign has opened 24 coordinated campaign offices across Pennsylvania, including in red areas like York and Lancaster. Trump doesn’t appear to have any Pennsylvania campaign offices open yet, although his campaign leadership has recently said it prefers to run a “leaner” operation than in past campaigns.

Ahead of Trump’s Saturday visit, the Biden campaign held a call with reporters Friday, featuring New Jersey Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. She blasted Trump’s business record in New Jersey.

“I suspect that when Trump holds that rally in Wildwood, you will see a lot of people coming from outside our state because here inside our state, we know that Trump filed for bankruptcy five times,” Sherrill said. “That he really undermined the economic viability of Atlantic City, that he didn’t pay workers, he didn’t pay contractors, he had small businesses going out of business because of his failed promises.”

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

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