WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — It was full steam ahead for Donald Trump as he returned to the barnstorm in Pennsylvania Monday, hitting his recurring campaign themes and seeking to ignore a divide in his Republican Party that continued to grow.
Trump roused thousands of hard-core supporters who lined up hours before the rally at the Mohegan Sun Arena, by promising that as president, he would build a wall along the Mexican border, bring back American jobs from overseas and appoint someone to prosecute Hillary Clinton.
The crowd booed when Trump suggested the election could be stolen from him. He brought up a story he has told during previous campaign stops about a snake that seemed docile only to bite its caretaker, an apparent reference to Clinton.
He vowed he’d win this key state and said polls that showed him behind here weren’t likely right because his advisers tell him that “everyone in Pennsylvania is for Trump.”
Trump did not mention a split in the Republican Party that opened up Friday after The Washington Post put a 2005 videotape on its website where he is heard bragging about groping women’s genitals. Dozens of Republicans said they could no longer support him afterward. The split grew wider Monday when House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would stop campaigning for Trump and instead concentrate on congressional elections. Ryan’s disclosure came a day after a presidential debate that featured bitter and harsh exchanges between Clinton and Trump.
On Twitter, Trump blasted Ryan. He’s also denounced Republicans who’ve abandoned him as “traitors.” But In a nearly hourlong speech here, he largely paid no heed, save for one remark that could have been viewed as referring to the controversy, when he said “wouldn’t it be great” if “establishment politicians” worked to fix the country “instead of fighting me and you.”
He told his supporters to stick with him, that their cause would eventually be victorious.
“We have 28 days. We’re going to go out and we’re going to win,” Trump said. “I’m doing to make three, four stops a day. I may be limping across that finish line, but I will get across that line.”
He got huge cheers when he promised to slap high taxes on any company that moved jobs overseas and build a wall along the nation’s southern border. He promised his administration would “make Pennsylvania so rich again.”
He read from sheets of paper, purportedly about Clinton emails released by the WikiLeaks organization, that he said showed her being two-faced about international trade deals and other issues.
“She’s crooked, folks,” Trump said, returning to a theme he’s repeated throughout his campaign.
Some supporters said their faith in Trump’s chances was unshakable, even amid his drop in the polls over the last two weeks and the chaos within the Republican Party.
“I think a lot of them haven’t really abandoned him. They’ll come back,” said Donald MacRae, a truck driver from nearby Duryea.
MacRae said what Trump said about women “doesn’t sound good,” but will play no role in the election and is not as crucial as other issues, like Trump following through on his vow to prosecute Clinton.
“I do believe when Donald gets in, she is going to go to prison,” MacRae said.
Others at the rally had harsh criticism for Ryan.
“One minute he’s for Trump. The next minute, he’s not,” said Michael Ayers, a New Jersey resident, about Ryan. Some of the mainstream Republicans never wanted Trump anyway, so it might not be such a blow, Ayers added.
“This whole video thing was an excuse for them to jump ship,” Ayers said, adding that he didn’t condone Trump’s words but still strongly supported him.