JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Donald Trump vowed Friday to return manufacturing jobs to this working-class swath of Pennsylvania, applauding the region’s roots as a former leading producer of iron and steel while firing up the crowd by proclaiming anew that the election is rigged against him.
“When I’m president, we’re going to start making things again in America . . . We’re also going to unleash the power of American energy right here in Pennsylvania: shale, oil, natural gas, clean coal and all the new infrastructure that comes along with it,” Trump said at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
And he said he would bring back steel:
“Your jobs will come back under a Trump administration, that I can tell you, including your steel, which has been decimated in this area.”
The Republican presidential nominee lamented that the Cambria Iron Company and its successor, the Bethlehem Steel Company, are now defunct while he noted a sense of hometown pride. “We are going to bring prosperity back to Johnstown,” Trump said.
The Manhattan real estate mogul visited southwestern Pennsylvania — a battleground state where his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, leads in recent polls by a couple of percentage points — as part of a three-stop campaign swing on Friday.
The White House contenders are ramping up their get-out-the-vote efforts with just over two weeks to go until Election Day.
Trump repeatedly attacked Clinton and President Barack Obama’s administration as acting against the interests of manufacturing pockets of America.
“Our politicians failed you and betrayed you. They allowed foreign countries to dump cheap steel into our markets and shut you down,” he said, while adding of those who toiled at iron and steel mills, “they did their part, they lived up to their duties as Americans.”
On the debate stage and at her own rallies, Clinton has portrayed Trump as a hypocrite who uses cheaper Chinese-made steel in the construction of his developments.
Trump did not mention the former secretary of state’s remark against him, instead referencing apparent Clinton campaign emails released by WikiLeaks and showing what he called collusion with protesters, among other “crooked” behavior.
Trump said Clinton has lied to the country, and the crowd finished his sentence in a chant: “Over and over and over.”
Trump backers agreed the system is working against their candidate, saying there could be unrest if he isn’t victorious.
“I won’t accept it,” said Laura Thomas, 41, of Johnstown, an optician, of the potential election of Clinton.
“I’ve always thought the system was rigged,” said Dennis Salem, 64, of Johnstown, a sporting goods store owner and firearms dealer who said he backs Trump in part for his defense of the Second Amendment. “I think there might be some rioting on Nov. 9 and 10. It’s going to be ugly, total chaos.”
Trump’s insistence that the election won’t be a free and fair one has been denounced by both Democratic and Republican leaders as an undermining of a pillar of American democracy, but he didn’t back down from the claim.
“It’s a rigged system, don’t ever forget it,” he said. “That’s why you’ve got to get out and vote, you’ve got to watch.”