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Friday September 24th, 2021 8:26PM

The Latest: Trump hits 1st of 3 rallies in key Pennsylvania

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the presidential campaign (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is beginning the first of three campaign rallies in Pennsylvania by saying he wants to discuss an issue of “existential importance” as he focuses on former Vice President Joe Biden’s policies on energy.

Pennsylvania is the second leading producer of natural gas in the country behind Texas.

Trump claims that Biden would “abolish the entire U.S. oil industry.” Trump says that means no fracking and no jobs for Pennsylvania families, adding “Biden’s plan is an economic death sentence for Pennsylvania’s energy sector.”

He is seizing on Biden’s comments in last week’s debate that he would “transition away from the oil industry.”

But Biden sought to clarify later that he was talking about ending federal subsidies for oil companies. He also said “we’re not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time.”

Biden has also repeatedly pledged not to abolish fracking. Instead, he has called for no new fracking permits on federal lands.

Trump is speaking to hundreds of supporters in Allentown as he focuses on the key battleground state of Pennsylvania.

___

12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner says the president wants to help Black people succeed but that they have to want to be successful for the policies to work.

“But he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful,” Kushner said on “Fox & Friends” on Monday.

He said Black people are mostly Democrats, but are starting to see that Trump’s policies can help them solve problems they have complained about for years.

Kushner also criticized people who raised their voices after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody, but then didn’t follow through and work to find ways to improve the lives of Black people in America.

“You saw a lot of people who were just virtue signaling -- they go on Instagram and cry, or they would, you know, put a slogan on their jersey or write something on a basketball court,” Kushner said. “Quite frankly, that was doing more to polarize the country than it was to bring people forward. You solve problems with solutions.”

___

11:25 a.m.

Melania Trump is set to make her first solo campaign-trail appearance of 2020 for President Donald Trump.

Trump’s reelection campaign says the first lady will appear at an event Tuesday in Atglen, Pennsylvania, that will be moderated by former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

The campaign says she will share the president’s agenda with Pennsylvanians.

The first lady has not appeared at one of the president’s campaign events since June 2019 in Orlando, Florida, where the president formally announced his bid for a second term.

She had been scheduled to headline campaign fundraisers back in March, but those events were canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Mrs. Trump recently recovered from a bout with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

___

10:15 a.m.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is taking issue with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s criticism that the Trump administration has given up on trying to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden had seized on Meadows’ Sunday comments on CNN in which Meadows said “we’re not going to control the pandemic.” Asked why, Meadows said it’s “because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Those comments had produced criticism and at least one news headline saying: “White House gives up on trying to control virus spread.”

On Monday, Meadows tried to do some cleanup. He says, “The only person waving a white flag along with his white mask is Joe Biden."

Meadows says Trump won’t give up until all Americans are safe and the virus is defeated. He says, “We are going to defeat the virus. We are not going to control it. We will try to contain it as best we can.”

Meadows spoke to reporters at the White House on Monday before the Republican president travels to campaign events in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania.

___

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:

President Donald Trump plans to intensify an already breakneck travel schedule in the final full week of the presidential campaign, overlooking a surge of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and a fresh outbreak in his own White House.

Read more:

— House already won? Pelosi thinks so, and reaches for more

— Early vote total exceeds 2016; GOP chips at Dems’ advantage

— 2020 Watch: Is Biden remaking the Democratic coalition?

— AP FACT CHECK: Trump and his familiar falsehoods

— Pence to keep up travel despite contact with infected aides

— AP Explains: Trump pushes questions about Joe Biden’s son

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