Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania as hurricane pounds Florida

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — As Hurricane Michael pounded Florida tonight, President Donald Trump took shelter at a campaign event in Pennsylvania, where he sought to boost Republicans before the midterms.

Trump acknowledged the hurricane at the top of his rally in Erie, offering his "thoughts and prayers" to those in the storm's path and promising to "spare no effort" in the response. He promised to travel to Florida "very shortly."

He added: "We will always pull through. ... We will always be successful at what we do."

Then Trump turned back to politics. His Pennsylvania rally was the latest stop on an all-out midterms blitz. With weeks to go before the November elections, Trump and his fellow Republicans have been invigorated by the successful nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and are seeking to use the contentious moment to unify the GOP and stave off Democratic energy at the polls.

That Trump kept his appointment in Erie underscored the importance of this effort to Republicans. Earlier in the day, Trump received a hurricane briefing at the White House on the Category 4 storm. He told reporters he faced a "quagmire" about whether to attend the Pennsylvania rally because "thousands of people" were already lined up for the event.

Trump, who won Pennsylvania in 2016, touted Republican Reps. Mike Kelly and Lou Barletta. Kelly is facing a challenge from Democrat Ron DiNicola, while Barletta is mounting an uphill campaign to unseat two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. The president, who attended a fundraiser before the rally, also praised GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner.

After his comments about the hurricane, Trump pivoted to the midterms, celebrating Justice Kavanaugh's appointment despite Democratic opposition and sexual misconduct allegations against him. Trump called it a "historic week," saying, "What the radical Democrats did to Brett Kavanaugh and his beautiful family is a national disgrace."

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