In support of the Second Amendment, President Donald Trump and Republican congressional candidate Lisa Scheller, about 200 people rallied at Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays Tuesday, the same North Whitehall Township business where Donald Trump Jr. addressed an enthusiastic crowd of his father’s backers last month.
Sporting Clays’ owner Bill Bachenberg told the cheering crowd that the National Rifle Association helped Trump win in 2016 and that, “We are going to do it again.” A collective gasp was heard when he noted that 150,000 hunters and 450,000 anglers didn’t vote four years ago. “If they vote,” he said, “game over.”
The “Defending Your Freedoms” rally was organized by Scheller’s campaign and Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and numerous state GOP organizations.
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Speakers included Jonathan Goldstein, a Montgomery County attorney who has represented the National Rifle Association in numerous Pennsylvania lawsuits.
Goldstein pinpointed which gun laws that he said may be threatened and told the crowd that Scheller would work to establish nationwide concealed carry reciprocity, which would require all states to recognize permits to carry a concealed weapon that were granted by other states.
Scheller, 61 of Allentown, is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild for the 7th Congressional District seat, which represents Lehigh and Northampton counties and part of Monroe County.
Wild became the first woman to represent the Lehigh Valley in Congress in 2018 after defeating Republican nominee Marty Nothstein in a race that drew national attention.
“We need more Republicans in Congress,” said Barry Reed, who attended Tuesday’s rally with his wife, Linda Grey. The Washington Township couple have supported Trump since 2016 and wanted to hear more from Scheller.
To applause, Scheller said she would give Wild her walking papers and help the GOP take back the House. She presented herself as a pro-gun, pro-police, tough-on-crime candidate, while claiming Wild was in lockstep with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in legislating a path to socialism, via Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
“I grew up in an America that respected law enforcement officers,” she said.
Touting her experience as a businesswoman and Lehigh County commissioner, Scheller said a vote for her would be a vote for equality of opportunity, freedom and the American dream.
Scheller is president and chairman of Silberline Manufacturing, a Tamaqua-area maker of aluminum pigments for automotive paints, plastic coatings and printing inks. She served on the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners, including a stint as chair, for four years.
Trump endorsed Scheller ahead of her Republican primary victory over Dean Browning, citing in a tweet her “strong support” for the Second Amendment as well as for small businesses, the military and veterans.
Asked about Trump after her campaign kickoff speech in October, Scheller told reporters: “People want to make this a litmus test on Trump, and I’m not going to play that game.” As the race has unfolded, she’s expressed support for Trump several times, and on Tuesday said she would help him stay in the White House.
More gun rights activists will visit the region Thursday, when Mark and Patricia McCloskey will speak at Town Hall Park in Lower Saucon Township. The St. Louis couple made national headlines this summer after they stood armed outside their home while Black Lives Matter protesters marched down the private street toward the mayor’s home.
Trump’s win in Pennsylvania, including a strong performance in the Lehigh Valley, was crucial to his victory in 2016. He was the first Republican since 1988 to win the state’s 20 electoral votes, edging Hillary Clinton by 44,000 votes out of 6 million cast across Pennsylvania. Northampton County was one of three counties statewide that flipped from favoring Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 to supporting Trump.
A Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll in late August showed Biden with a narrow lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, as did a Monmouth University poll released less than two weeks later. According to a Marist College poll released last week, Trump trails Biden by 9 points statewide but leads him by 9 points in the northeast region, which includes in the Lehigh Valley.
Morning Call reporter Andrew Wagaman can be reached at 610-820-6764 or [email protected].
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