He won the white working class voters here four years ago. He can no longer win without them.
The president is lagging Joe Biden in national polls and the margin has widened in critical states like Pennsylvania as well.
As Air Force One landed in the former steel community of Johnstown, the scenario was predictable.
“For half a century, Biden has twisted his blade in the heart of the American worker.
“He shouldn’t be asking for your votes, he should beg your forgiveness. He did a terrible job, ”Mr. Trump told an enthusiastic crowd.
Mr. Biden, born in Pennsylvania, has repeatedly presented the election as a choice between the blue collar worker who grew up in Scranton and the one who grew up on Park Avenue in Manhattan.
The promise of jobs, the protection of jobs – that’s Mr. Trump’s best chance of maximizing his popularity here.
Blue collar workers who feel represented by the billionaire may be a paradox – but the attachment to Mr. Trump is powerful.
To many, the connection seems more visceral than any material difference in their lives over the past four years.
“He makes me proud to be an American. It reminds me of freedom, ”a former steelmaker told me. He has tears in his eyes as he describes how much he loves Mr. Trump.
“He stands up for workers and he won’t leave people forgotten behind,” says another – a computer scientist.
While the most threatening constituency for Donald Trump’s re-election is the loss of suburban women, several female supporters have approached me to proactively share their views.
“He is the voice of the people. He’s one of us, he’s not a politician, ”says a woman – a teacher.
Away from the rally, in the town of Johnstown, in the Rust Belt, I had a hard time meeting anyone who didn’t like Mr. Trump, let alone support him.
“I voted for him for the first time and he didn’t let me down,” says mechanic Jim Livingstone.
“He definitely got my vote the second time around – and it will be in person and not by mail. ”
Mr. Livingstone’s reference to “email” is a clear nod to Mr. Trump’s criticism that postal voting is subject to widespread fraud and could rig elections.
There is no evidence to support these claims, but it seems to have resonated with many of his supporters.
Democrats are more likely to vote by mail, and so far more than three-quarters of the early votes in Pennsylvania have been Democrats.
In Johnstown however, I found only one Biden supporter – Barbara.
“I am very worried about how disconnected people are and there is no more unity,” she said.
“I’m tired of all the hate and bullying and think Joe is the type of person we need in the White House to bring us back to some normalcy. ”
Barbara helped me understand why I was having trouble finding Biden supporters.
“They are afraid to say who they vote for,” she explained. “I am not even allowed to talk about politics at work here. ”
Politics clearly divides America.
Barbara’s friend – who approached us to join the conversation – didn’t want to say how she planned to vote. Even between old friends, they will not discuss it any more.
“There are too many people fighting and arguing. People who have been friends for years won’t even go to the same room, ”says her friend Sherry Lynn.
Pennsylvania – which could be the tipping point for this election – is seen as a microcosm of the country in its shared views and loyalties.
It certainly reveals the deep and sour political divisions that are unlikely to be healed no matter who wins.