Trump holding Pennsylvania rally days after rival Biden did

MONTOURSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump is visiting Pennsylvania expressing confidence in his ability to win a state that will be critical to his prospects of winning a second term.

Trump's appearance in the key battleground state Monday comes two days after Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden held a campaign rally in Philadelphia.

"The polls had us losing Pennsylvania last time and we won," Trump said as he departed the White House. "And I expect we'll win this time because the coal industry, the steel industry, the car industry, they're all doing incredibly well."

The president is also campaigning on behalf of Republican Fred Keller, who faces Democrat Marc Friedenberg in a Tuesday election to fill the House seat left open when Republican Rep. Tom Marino resigned in January. Voters in the heavily Republican district overwhelmingly backed Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

The president uses his campaign rallies to disparage various Democratic candidates for president, but he has been heavily focused on Biden, suggesting he may be worried about facing off next year against the former vice president and longtime U.S. senator.

Trump comments often on how poorly Biden performed during his 1998 and 2008 presidential runs before he dropped out.

"Looks like Bernie Sanders is history," Trump tweeted Monday about the U.S. senator from Vermont who led the Democratic presidential field before Biden entered the race in April. "Sleepy Joe Biden is pulling ahead and think about it, I'm only here because of Sleepy Joe and the man who took him off the 1% trash heap, President O! China wants Sleepy Joe BADLY!"

Biden is also making a big play for Pennsylvania. He kicked off his campaign in Harrisburg and located his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia.

Biden's rally Saturday marked the culmination of a three-week campaign rollout that began and ended in Pennsylvania. The 76-year-old native of working-class Scranton has climbed to the front of the crowded primary field, in part by ignoring his Democratic rivals and focusing on his ability to compete with Trump head-to-head next year.

In the fight to deny Trump reelection, no places will matter more than Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, three states the Republican president carried by razor-thin margins in 2016.

Keller, a fifth-term state representative, outlasted 13 other candidates seeking the GOP nomination in the heavily Republican district in north-central Pennsylvania. Friedenberg, a lawyer and Penn State information technology instructor, was the only Democrat to seek his party's nomination.

Trump tweeted Monday that Keller has been "outstanding" in the state Legislature.

"Now he is running as the Republican Nominee for Congress, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will do a fantastic job," Trump wrote.

If elected, Keller would complete the remainder of Marino's term, which ends in January 2021.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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