News & Politics

Five for Friday: Presidential campaigns in the commonwealth

Both the major party and third party candidates are seeking to make an impression in the Keystone State

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is seen on stage during a presidential campaign announcement in Philadelphia in October 2023.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is seen on stage during a presidential campaign announcement in Philadelphia in October 2023. Gilbert Carrasquillo / GC Images / Getty Images

It’s now been six days and counting since a Biden was last seen campaigning in the commonwealth – a seemingly long stretch for an administration leaning on Pennsylvania during its presidential campaign. With just over five months to go before the 2024 general election, both parties are ramping up voter engagement efforts throughout the battleground state of Pennsylvania. 

Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have made campaign stops in the commonwealth this year, with more expected in the near future. But even as both party nominees were out of the state this week, there was no shortage of storylines surrounding the candidates and their campaigns – and not just the two major parties. 

City & State has your Five for Friday, breaking down the latest from the presidential campaign trail in Pennsylvania. 

FLOTUS makes a pit stop at Pittsburgh Pride

To kick off the month of June, First Lady Jill Biden visited Pittsburgh and Erie on Saturday to show support for the LGBTQ community. At a Pride celebration on the North Side of Pittsburgh, Biden said that “It shouldn’t take courage to hold someone’s hand on the bus, to kiss them goodbye on the sidewalk, to love who you love. It shouldn’t, but in too many places, it still does.”

Biden also claimed Republicans in Congress, as well as Trump, are “dangerous” to the LGBTQ community, reiterating that her husband is in support of protecting the rights of those in the community: “Your president loves you.”

Trump opens up shop in Northeast Philly

The Trump campaign also made its way to the commonwealth this week, with surrogates hosting Black voter engagement events and a new campaign office opening in Northeast Philadelphia. The “Black Americans for Trump” initiative created a bit of backlash, however, as the campaign office opened up in a majority-white and conservative portion of the city. Comments made by Trump surrogate U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds – a Florida Republican and potential vice presidential pick – also drew the ire of those in the Black community with Donalds saying that “during Jim Crow, the Black family was together.” 

RFK Jr. 

Independent and third-party candidates in Pennsylvania seeking the presidency are required to obtain at least 5,000 signatures on their nominating petitions, and independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign is confident it will acquire the necessary signatures to make it on the ballot. 

“The campaign has volunteers who have begun collecting signatures to get the Kennedy-Shanahan ticket on the ballot in Pennsylvania,” a spokesperson for the campaign told City & State in an email. “We will collect more than the required 5,000 signatures by the August 1 deadline to ensure ballot access in Pennsylvania.”

Recent surveys on the presidential race have shown Kennedy polling between 7% and 10% in Pennsylvania. A poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University and Mainstreet Research in late May had Kennedy at 8%. 

Jill Stein

The Stein campaign is once again pushing to get on the presidential ballot in Pennsylvania – and this week, campaign officials said they were close. Stein's campaign announced that she is just hundreds of votes away from recording the 5,000 signatures required to get on the presidential ballot ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline. 

Alex Casper, Green Party of Pennsylvania secretary, said the party plans to go beyond the signature requirement and attempt to receive about 10,000 signatures by July 27.

Capitol officers booed at state House

The fallout from the 2020 presidential election is still alive and well in Pennsylvania. As the Pennsylvania House of Representatives was set to honor two police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, some GOP lawmakers reportedly jeered and walked off the House floor.

The episode has attracted national attention from The Hill, The Washington Post and MSNBC, among other outlets, and shows that the 2020 presidential race – and the false claims of widespread election fraud that proliferated afterward – are still fresh in the minds of lawmakers in the state House as a 2020 rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump gets closer. 

However, House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler, in a statement sent to The Hill, countered Democrats’ framing of the day, noting that he met with both officers and members of the House GOP took pictures with them. Cutler added that Democrats “demonstrated a pattern of antagonizing members and inviting division and discord for their political and campaign purposes,” according to the outlet.