WASHINGTON - Fresh from announcing his third pick to the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump lauded nominee Amy Coney Barrett as "a brilliant legal mind" and promised supporters in Pennsylvania late Saturday that she would defend "your God-given rights and freedoms."
Taking the stage at a campaign rally amid a light drizzle, Trump reminded the crowd that he had just come from a White House Rose Garden ceremony where he nominated Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, to replace the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the nation's highest court.
Trump boasted of Barrett's credentials for the job, which he sarcastically said are "a little better" than those of his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
"She should be running for president," Trump told cheering supporters at Harrisburg International Airport.
Right on cue, the crowd erupted into chants of "Fill that seat!"
Before Trump's arrival in Pennsylvania, a Jumbotron inside the rally area and another screen in the parking lot where people were waiting to get in broadcast live footage of the Rose Garden ceremony.
If confirmed, Barrett would become Trump's third justice on the Supreme Court and could consolidate conservative control of the court for decades. Trump warned that Biden would try to fill federal courts with judges "handpicked by socialists" if he wins in November.
Barrett's nomination, overwhelmingly popular among conservatives, comes as Trump trails Biden in most polls and gives him a chance to change the national conversation from the coronavirus pandemic, racial justice and a troubled economy.
Amy Coney Barrett: Talented judge, popular professor brings solid conservative credentials
Trump's visit to Pennsylvania is his fifth visit to the battleground state this month and his second this week. On Tuesday, he rallied supporters at Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon Township, where his 90-minute speech focused on the economy, energy and predicting a win in Pennsylvania in November.
Biden has traveled to the state four times this month.
Pennsylvania has emerged as a key battleground in this year's presidential race. Four years ago, Trump became the first Republican since 1988 to carry Pennsylvania, a major pick-up in his Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton. His campaign is hoping to repeat that feat this year to offset potential losses in other states that he carried in 2016.
"We won Pennsylvania last time and we're going to win it by a lot more this time," he told the crowd.
Most polls show a tight race in the Keystone State this year. A University of Wisconsin poll released on Thursday gave Biden a four-point lead. A Fox News poll released the same day showed Biden ahead by seven points. The political website RealClearPolitics, which tracks polling, gives Biden a 4.3-point lead in its average of national polls.
Trump and Biden will face off in Cleveland on Tuesday during the first of three presidential debates.
Contributing: The Patriot-News; David Jackson of USA TODAY
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump boasts that SCOTUS pick Barrett will defend 'God-given rights'