Published 9:29 PM EDT Oct 10, 2018
As Hurricane Michael battered the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump visited Pennsylvania to urge backers to vote Republican in next month's congressional elections.
Trump, who once criticized his predecessor, Barack Obama, for campaigning eight days after a hurricane, said during a rally in Erie that he needs a Republican Congress to protect his actions as president.
"We need those votes in D.C.," Trump said.
During the speech, Trump took credit for the economy, a crackdown at the border, new trade policies and the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; he claimed that Democrats want to "impose socialism" and called them "the party of crime" that will try to kill his agenda.
He attacked "radical Democrats" for opposing Kavanaugh, and told supporters they could "vote to reject the Democrats' shameful conduct" by backing Republican candidates in the Nov. 6 midterms.
Opinion: Donald Trump: Democrats 'Medicare for All' plan will demolish promises to seniors
Opinion: Donald Trump knows nothing about Medicare, health care or Democrats: Talker
Trump also made an obscure joke about the Me Too movement that is devoted to fighting sexual assault.
Noting that he was the first Republican since 1988 to carry the state of Pennsylvania, Trump said: "They didn't quite get it but I got it ... There's an expression, but under the rules of Me Too, I'm not allowed to use that expression anymore; can't do it. It's the person that got away."
Democrats noted that Hurricane Michael began moving across the South as Trump engaged in negative campaigning.
"And Florida and Georgia are being devastated," tweeted Joe Lockhart, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton.
Nancy Patton Mills, chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said Trump and Republican candidates are defending an agenda that hurts working people. "As with their tax plan and their health care repeal attempt, they will always help themselves and their millionaire friends at the expense of working Pennsylvanians," she said.
Cable television networks did not broadcast Trump's event, opting instead for ongoing hurricane coverage.
In 2012, Trump criticized then-President Obama for conducting campaign events more than a week after Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey. "Wrong!' he tweeted back then.
Trump began his speech by offering thoughts and prayers for people facing the storm, especially in the Florida Panhandle. "It's a big one, one of the biggest we've ever seen," Trump said, adding that his administration is working with the governors of all the states in Hurricane Michael's path.
"We'll be traveling to Florida very, very shortly," Trump said.
Earlier, Trump told reporters he decided against postponing the Erie event because it would have been "unfair" to supporters who began lining up early in the day.
"In the meantime," he said, "we have it very well covered in Florida – from the White House and from here, from what’s on the plane, and we’ll be back very shortly."