State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Trump goes off-script in Lancaster

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 2, 2016 5:58 PM
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Trump spoke before a crowd of about 6,000 people in the Spooky Nook Sports arena in Manheim. (Photo by AP)

(Manheim) -- On the heels of a widely panned debate performance, and as a damning New York Times scoop on his tax returns was breaking, Republican Donald Trump made a swing through central Pennsylvania. 

The businessman has been relatively restrained in recent weeks. But Saturday night, in front of 6,000 cheering supporters at a Lancaster sports arena, Trump veered from warnings to watch polls in Pennsylvania for cheating, to casting aspersions on Hillary Clinton's faithfulness to her husband.

Even before Trump took the stage, though, emotions were running high in the arena.

In an opening speech, Republican state Senator and congressional candidate Lloyd Smucker gave Trump a strong endorsement, telling the crowd they should be afraid of a president Hillary Clinton and prompting a round of "lock her up" chants.

Republican candidate for state treasurer Otto Voit gave a similar warm-up address, notably saying that "ISIS did not exist before Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State."

Experts generally agree ISIS was founded in 2004 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Trump arrived nearly two hours late, telling the impatient crowd his helicopter had been unable to land in the rain.

He immediately launched into his now-familiar promises to protect miners and bring manufacturing back to the commonwealth, and spent ample time critiquing the US's current trade deals.

The Trans Pacific Partnership was a particular target. Trump told the crowd that it "will bring economic devastation to Pennsylvania."

"Our campaign," he said, "is America's one and only chance to stop that, and lots of other bad things that are happening to our country."

An even larger portion of the speech, however, was devoted to Clinton.

Trump repeatedly derided the Democrat, veering into topics like her health and mental stability.

He defended his temperament as being "one of my best qualities," and told supporters that it was Clinton they should be concerned about.

"Now she's got a bad temperament," he said. "She's got--she could be crazy. She could actually be crazy."

At the end of his approximately hour-long address, though, Trump returned to what appeared to be scripted remarks.

"Pennsylvania steel and the incredible steel worker will send new skyscrapers into the clouds," he said. "American hands will rebuild this nation."

Though Pennsylvania polls have tightened significantly in the last month, Trump still trails by about two and a half points in the critical swing state.

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