On Monday, the Trump campaign announced it would hold a rally in Pennsylvanians’ heartland, but it will only be for the duration of the two-day convention, and it won’t be held in the city where the presumptive Republican nominee was born.
Instead, it will be in downtown Pittsburgh, a city with a history of supporting the Republican Party and a large Jewish community, which the campaign said it plans to make its centerpiece of the convention.
For Trump, the city’s history is central to his appeal.
His father, Fred Trump, was born in Pennsylvania, and his mother, Frances, who emigrated to Israel after the Holocaust, moved there in 1948.
Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the Republican National Convention, which has a long history of attracting large crowds, and the Trump family has been there since the 1930s, with Fred Trump once saying the state was “the birthplace of a generation” that gave him his first major political victory.
At first glance, the move is an odd one for a campaign with a record of having flirted with an attendance ban and other policies, but its timing was also prescient.
The campaign announced the move in a statement on Monday, in part, because of a looming Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which is set to be heard next week.
“The Pennsylvania convention will not only be a critical moment in the campaign, but a turning point for the future of the party,” Trump said in the statement.
But while the decision to hold the rally in Pittsburgh was initially a reaction to the Supreme Court decision, it’s also a direct response to a recent controversy surrounding the Trump-affiliated group the National Diversity Coalition.
It has been the subject of numerous protests and legal challenges, and several members of the group have been indicted in the past for fraud.
In the past week, Trump has repeatedly criticized the group, and this week he made a thinly veiled threat to cancel the entire convention, which he later retracted.
Still, the announcement came as Trump was facing growing criticism for the convention’s failure to meet his expectations.
During a recent appearance on Fox News, Trump defended his decision to use the rally as a promotional event, saying he did so because “the convention has been a total failure” and because he wanted to “show what I can do.”
That was largely a response to criticism from the political left that the rally was not a proper celebration of his candidacy.
Trump was scheduled to hold a fundraiser for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee at the Pennsylvania Marriott Marquis Hotel on Friday night, but the event was abruptly canceled because of the court case.
A spokesman for the Trump camp later said the fundraiser had been postponed because of legal proceedings, and he was still planning to hold another fundraiser for a political party next month in New York.
And while Trump may have used the rally to promote his campaign, the political reality of his own campaign has not changed much since his first campaign stop in South Carolina in June 2016, when he was in a tight race with then-Republican presidential nominee Sen. Ted Cruz.
While Trump still maintains his lead in the polls, the campaign’s latest polling indicates the race is narrowing, with Cruz having regained ground in recent weeks.