- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

FARMVILLE, Va. — With the vice presidential debate in the rearview mirror, both campaigns Wednesday turn their attention toward Pennsylvania, a must-win battleground for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the place where his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton aims to stop him.

Mr. Trump has made the Keystone State the linchpin of his Rust Belt strategy, as he tries to remake the electoral map with the support of working-class voters in traditional blue states from Pennsylvania to Michigan.

“It is very hard for him to win without Pennsylvania,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters at the debate at Longwood University. “The difference in our campaigns and what gives me confidence right now is that we have a large number of different paths to the White House.”

“The bar is really high for Donald Trump. I would argue he has to win Florida, he has to win North Carolina, he probably has to win Pennsylvania and that is a very narrow path,” he said.

In the debate, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence used Scranton, a Pennsylvania town long suffering from economic decline, to highlight the disconnect between Mrs. Clinton’s rhetoric about the county’s economic comeback under President Obama.

“Senator, you can roll out the numbers and the sunny side, but I got to tell you, people in Scranton know different. People in Fort Wayne, Indiana, know different,” he told Mrs. Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine.

“I mean, this economy is struggling. The answer to this economy is not more taxes,” said Mr. Pence, the governor of Indiana.

Mrs. Clinton has a 4.4-percent lead over Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania in the Real Clear Politics average of recent surveys in the state. The polls in the average looked at a four-way race that included Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson at 5.7 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 2 percent.

Mr. Kaine, heads straight to Philadelphia after the debate, tagging in after the former secretary of state held two events Tuesday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Pence sticking around Wednesday morning in Virginia before heading to Pennsylvania for a two-day campaign swing through Pennsylvania, stumping in Harrisonburg, Granville, Gettysburg and Johnstown.

The shift of attention to Pennsylvania signal that both camps believe it could be the decisive battleground of the 2016 presidential race, and underscores Team Clinton’s confidence in the firewall she has erected in Virginia, the state that sent Mr. Kaine to the Senate and where he served as governor.

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