LATROBE, Pa.—”If you want to save your rights and liberties, you have to start by dealing a humiliating rebuke to the radical left in this upcoming election on Tuesday,” said former President Donald Trump, stumping in support of Republican senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and current state senator Doug Mastriano in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He encouraged Americans to vote for “America First” Republicans “in a giant red wave.”
Trump’s speech received an enthusiastic response from thousands at the “Save America” rally on Saturday.
Trump warned that Oz’s election “could be the vote that’s going to make the difference between a country and not a country” in a closely divided Senate. “If it’s 49 [seats] for the Republicans, this country, I don’t know if it’s going to live for another two years,” he said.
Trump called Oz’s Democratic opponent, John Fetterman, “the single most dangerous Democrat seeking to join Congress” referring to Fetterman’s controversial criminal justice reform efforts.
Trump called Mastriano “a fighter and a warrior for the ‘America First agenda.’” He told spectators, “He’s the only person in this race standing between your family and Pennsylvania being destroyed by violent crime.”
“A vote for Josh Shapiro is a vote to destroy Pennsylvania’s future,” Trump said, referring to Shapiro’s failure to lower crime rates during his stint as Pennsylvania’s attorney general.
Rampant Crime Tops Many Voters’ Lists
“Crime is just absolutely horrible. Every day you hear on the news, there’s something different happening,” Charlene Defacio told The Epoch Times. Defacio dressed as the Statue of Liberty for the rally in Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland County, saying her costume “stands for everything going on.”
Defacio said that at one time, people flocked to Westmoreland County because it was considered rural and crime-free. “Now [crime is] rampant here also,” she said. “Somebody has to do something about it. It’s terrible.”
Matthew DiAngelo, a resident of Peters Township in neighboring Washington County, said reducing crime is a priority for him as well. “I’ve always wanted to take my other half to New York because she’s never been there. I’m afraid to go. Who wants to go to New York? You could be walking straight down the street, and somebody punches you in the face. It’s just incredible,” DiAngelo told the Epoch Times. “We need more police,” he said.
“We’re an in a tough spot in America right now,” Michael Cabrera, a State Farm agent from Maryland, told The Epoch Times. “We’ve got open borders. People are coming in illegally—many drugs are passing through the border. A lot of crime is coming to America,” he said.
Cabrera and his wife, Leslie Linan, drove three hours from Virginia to attend the rally. The couple expressed their worry about the United States as a country. “We feel like it’s going in the wrong direction. And we just need to turn it around and make it right for America,” said Cabrera.
Worries About Inflation and Energy
Speaking in California the day before he left for Pennsylvania, Biden drew widespread criticism—even from some in his own party—for advocating plans to close fossil fuel plants “all across America.” The fossil fuel industry is significant to Pennsylvania’s economy.
At the Latrobe rally, Trump accused Biden of “resuming the war on coal, your coal.”
Defacio, a United Natural Foods employee, said another of her biggest concerns is inflation: “The cost of everything, groceries, gasoline … Your wages don’t go up to compensate for how everything else is going up. It’s tough to make ends meet.”
DiAngelo also sees tackling inflation as an immediate priority. “First, we [have] to take care of this inflation, which is terrible,” he said.
He believes that in Pennsylvania, energy is a factor in the increase in inflation. “It all started way back in 2020 [when] we shut the pipelines. And then everything else [that has followed] is just a complete mess. We were energy-independent. We used to transport energy. And now we’re begging people for energy. I hope everything just gets turned around,” he said.
“It’s so hard to buy food anymore. It’s so hard to live daily life,” Adam Radogna, a business owner and real estate investor from Ohio, told The Epoch Times at the rally. Radogna considers inflation a huge concern for Americans right now. “Right now, we’re struggling everywhere. Inflation is high. We’re divided,” he said.
“Pennsylvania has lots of natural gas. And we should be using it. We can help not only Pennsylvania and the United States, but … also help the world,” Delaware resident Kevin McCabe told The Epoch Times.
Voting for the Benefit of the Country
“I am clueless as to why anybody in this country would be pro-socialism. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Jim Holiday, a civil engineer, told The Epoch Times. “That’s not what this country was founded on,” he added.
Holiday said he will vote for those whom he thinks are best for the United States. “I don’t hold a lot of faith in the polls,” he said. “I know who I’m voting for.” Holiday said he hopes Oz and Mastriano win “for the benefit of the country.” He said he feels the Republican candidates “will do what’s in the best interest of the country and the people of this country.”
Holiday said he believes unity results from elected officials acting for the benefit of the country instead of their political parties. “If the right people get in office, and they do the right thing, that benefits the country and the people of the country. People will see that, and that will have a uniting effect,” he said.
Rally attendee Amy Rabo works in health care. Rabo told The Epoch Times she is concerned about what the future holds for her children if people don’t start standing up for their beliefs.
“I think we need to believe in good things. We need to put God in our life. And we need to follow those people that believe in the same things that we do,” Rabo said.
Saturday’s Republican rally coincided with a Philadelphia rally for Democratic candidates Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman, attended by President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama. The matchup foreshadowed a possible 2024 rematch between Biden and Trump.