‘Scranton Joe’ visits hometown as Trump languishes in court

US President Joe Biden often references his blue-collar 'Scranton Joe' persona

US President Joe Biden will draw a stark contrast with Donald Trump on Tuesday when he visits his birthplace in Scranton, Pennsylvania — while his election rival is stuck in a New York courtroom.

The 81-year-old has long traded on his blue-collar image as “Scranton Joe” to reach out to middle- and working-class voters, but his rally in a key battleground state in November’s election is even more symbolic.

Biden will be relishing the split screen as he tours America’s industrial heartland while his Republican real estate tycoon rival is kept off the campaign trail, making unwanted history as the first ex-president ever to face a criminal trial.

The Democrat has refused to comment on Trump’s legal woes — shaking his head at the White House on Monday when asked if he was following the trial — but the messaging of the trip will speak for itself.

Biden often references the former coal-mining boomtown where he was born in 1942 to hardscrabble circumstances, which he frequently recalls in folksy stories about his family designed to appeal to voters struggling with the cost of living.

But this time he will also be giving a speech about how billionaires need to pay more in taxes.

“The address will drive home a simple question: Do you think the tax code should work for rich people or for the middle class?” Biden’s campaign said in a statement.

“The president has made it clear what he thinks the answer is, and so has Donald Trump.”

Biden himself released his tax returns on Monday — dubbed “Tax Day” in the United States, the deadline for most Americans to file their tax returns — and drew a contrast with Trump who broke presidential precedent by refusing to do so while in office.

‘I prefer Biden’

In Scranton, news of Biden’s homecoming had not yet done the rounds though.

One of the first sights off the interstate from New York — along the President Joe Biden expressway named after Scranton’s most famous son — is a huge trailer truck with a sign for Trump.

It’s towns like Scranton that Biden will need if he is going to hold Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state that he took from Trump in 2020.

“I just prefer Biden,” said Debra Hodges, 66, who does volunteer work and moved to the town from New York City about 20 years ago.

“His age is not a problem for me. I mean, we’re all gonna get older.”

Biden’s age is one of the key concerns for voters in opinion polls, despite the fact that he’s only four years older than Trump.

Recent polls have had Biden drawing largely level with Trump in spite of low personal approval ratings, though he has been shown lagging in swing states.

Hodges said she wasn’t planning to attend Biden’s rally on Tuesday.

“I’ll probably do some groundwork, some volunteer work for him,” she said. “Get young people to register to vote.”

She mentioned a series of key issues for voters such as herself including abortion, which Democrats regard as a vote-winner as they bash Trump for bragging about his role in denying the procedure to millions of women.

But Joshua Davis, 33, who makes items like keyrings and pendants using recycled plastic, and like Biden was born in Scranton, was not impressed by Trump or Biden.

He’s not alone — polls show a majority of voters are unenthused by the choice between the two candidates.

“They’re both puppets,” he said. “So whoever we elect is just the corporate interest.”


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