Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine's presidential campaign bus tour rolled into rural Western Pennsylvania on Saturday to talk about jobs and manufacturing - and begin a fight for votes from the state's white, working-class voters that Donald Trump hopes to win over in November.

"We are visiting places that prove what Americans can do," Clinton said at a wire factory in Johnstown. "We are the most productive, competitive workers in the world. We just need to give our people the chance to succeed."

Trump's campaign, meanwhile, announced Saturday that he will hold rallies Monday in Columbus, Ohio, and Harrisburg - two of the destinations on Clinton's weekend bus tour. Their corresponding schedules emphasized what both campaigns and outside experts have already predicted: Pennsylvania will be key this fall.

Before a crowd of factory workers in Johnstown, Clinton called Trump a demagogue and criticized his remarks Friday in Colorado that retired Marine Gen. John Allen is a "failed general." Clinton said she would not respond to Trump's attacks on her, but she defended Allen, calling him a hero and a patriot. The four-star general endorsed Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week.

"He lashes out, he loses his cool at the slightest provocation," Clinton said of Trump. "I am going to respond when he insults Americans, when he insults workers, when he insults unions, when he insults people who work hard for a living every single day."

A Clinton aide said Saturday that the private event in Johnstown for factory workers and their families was chosen specifically to reach white, working-class voters in rural Pennsylvania - a stop billed as a journey into "Republican turf."

Characteristically, Trump weighed in on Twitter:

The campaign buses continued farther west to a large rally in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, where Clinton gave a broader speech that included her plans to offer free tuition at state colleges and push for equal pay for women.

In contrast to the enthusiastic crowds lining the streets of Pittsburgh, Clinton and Kaine's buses rolled into Johnstown on Saturday afternoon with factories and mountains as a backdrop, and were greeted by a few dozen Trump supporters standing on the road outside Johnstown Wire Technologies.

They waved American flags and held Trump campaign signs, as well as homemade signs with phrases such as "Crooked Hillary" and "Send her a$$ to jail," and "Lock her up." Across the road from them stood a smaller group of supporters with "Steelworkers for Hillary" signs.

Pennsylvania's population is older, whiter, and has more working-class voters than other swing states. Those qualities could make it favorable to Trump, even though Pennsylvania has voted for Democrats in presidential elections since Bill Clinton's victory in 1992.

Meeting workers

In Johnstown, Clinton and Kaine were in the heart of rural Pennsylvania, where Trump is looking to gain support. Cambria County is 93 percent white, according to census data, and nearly 20 percent of its residents are 65 or older. The county's median household income is $42,000. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans, but Mitt Romney won 58 percent of the county's vote in 2012.

Inside Johnstown Wire Technologies, Clinton, Kaine, and their spouses toured the dusty factory floor and walked among large spools of wire and buzzing machines. The company employs about 260 people - most of them members of the United Steelworkers Union - and manufactures carbon and alloy wire for transportation and construction industries.

After the tour, Clinton and Kaine spoke to a group gathered at the factory. Clinton vowed to invest in infrastructure and manufacturing, and an "infrastructure bank" so that annual spending for it would not depend on allocations from Congress.

"Everyone who thinks we can't make it in America ought to come to Pennsylvania and do a tour," she said.

Brian Mikula, 48, a crane operator at the factory, said he does not usually cast a vote for president. But he was working Saturday, and brought his nephew who likes Clinton to see the event.

Afterward, standing outside in a hard hat on a cigarette break, Mikula said he's now thinking of voting for Clinton.

"I liked the idea of trying to get better wages for working-class people," he said. "We need them."

Trump, Mikula said, "seems like he just wants to talk about people instead of talking about what he'll do for us."

In Pittsburgh, Evelyn Andeen brought her daughter and granddaughter to see Clinton at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Andeen, 65 and a retired teacher, said she tends to vote for Democratic candidates - but not always. This year, she's behind Clinton.

"It's momentous - she's a woman," Andeen said. "She's the only candidate who's qualified."

The trip through Pennsylvania marked Clinton and Kaine's first joint trip, beginning in Philadelphia after the Democratic convention Friday and continuing to Montgomery County and Harrisburg.

'Pinching myself'

Kaine, his voice hoarse after his first week as the vice presidential nominee, spoke in Johnstown about his own family's background in manufacturing; he said his father ran an ironworking shop in Kansas City.

"For us to just be sitting on a bus shooting the breeze with Hillary and Bill Clinton, I've got to tell you I'm still just sort of pinching myself," he said.

While en route to Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon, Clinton released a statement supporting the parents of an American Muslim soldier, Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Clinton's remarks came after Trump, in interviews earlier Saturday, spoke insensitively of the emotional appearance of Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, on the final night of the Democratic convention.

"This is a time for all Americans to stand with the Khans, and with all the families whose children have died in service to our country," Clinton's statement said in part. "And this is a time to honor the sacrifice of Captain Khan and all the fallen. Captain Khan and his family represent the best of America, and we salute them."

The campaign pulled out of Pittsburgh shortly before 9 p.m. and arrived in Youngstown, Ohio, at 10:30 for the final rally of the day, at East High School, where the gymnasium was packed with supporters who had been waiting for hours.

Outside, a small group of Trump supporters stood on the road holding signs, including ones that read: "Hillary for prison 2016."

The bus tour is set to conclude Sunday afternoon after a stop in Columbus.


610-313-8116 @Lmccrystal