Donald Trump went to Joe Biden’s backyard on Thursday to attack his rival ahead of his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention – then the president stopped for some take-out pizza, which is a code word among Q-Anon conspiracy theorists.
The president, after speaking to supporters at Mariotti Building Products, a kitchen remodeler in Old Forge, made an unscheduled stop at a local pizza joint to buy a couple of pies.
It was an unusual move for Trump, who rarely makes such pit stops, unlike Vice President Mike Pence, who frequently stops at diners during his travels. Barack Obama, when he was president, also made several impromptu stops at diners and hamburger joints – which many politicians see as a way to meet and connect with ‘the people.’
Trump hopped out of the presidential limo at Arcaro and Genell Takeaway Kitchen, where the most expensive pie on the menu will set you back $18.95.
He appeared to have bought a cheese pizza – $15 on the menu, which he showed off the media traveling with him.
He said he wanted to stop ‘because they have great pizza.’ The boxes of pizza – and they’re called cuts at Arcaro and Genell, not slices – went back on Air Force One with him.
Trump was not pictured tasting the cheesy treat. But in June 2011 Trump was heavily mocked for eating a piece of pizza with a knife and fork during lunch with Sarah Palin at a New York pizzeria.
Old Forge, Pennsylvania, is famous for its distinct style of pizza. The Old Forge pizza – which comes in red or white – has a crust that’s lighter than a typical thick crust, and crispy on the bottom with a chewy center. The pies are baked in flat, rectangular trays, which is why the pieces are cuts instead of slices.
But pizza has a deeper connotation to the followers of the QAnon conspiracy collective, who believe Trump was elected to help save the world from a ‘deep state.’
The followers believe falsely that the world is run by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against President Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.
Among those in on the plot, they falsely claim, are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, George Soros, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Hanks, among others.
Hence, in the 2016 presidential campaign, when Wikileaks published the emails of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, QAnon followers believed there were code words in there that indicated a child-sex ring was being run at Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington D.C. – a conspiracy theory that has been soundly debunked.
The followers believe Trump was elected to trigger ‘The Storm’ – which is when the Satan loving pedophiles will be rounded up and brought to justice. They are constantly on the look out for signals from the president they can interpret as a clue that ‘the storm’ is coming.
The central figure in the conspiracy is Q, supposedly a high-level government official who leaves clues – or ‘drops’ – on message boards about the imminent ‘great awakening,’ when the pedophile cabal will be ended. Followers have speculated that Trump is Q.
And the president seemed to offer them encouragement during his press conference at the White House on Wednesday.
‘I’ve heard these are people that love our country,’ he said when asked about the QAnon followers. ‘So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.’
‘If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there,’ he added.
Before his pizza stop, Trump attacked Biden during his campaign stop, on the eve of Biden’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president.
Old Forge is about 20 minutes down the road from Biden’s childhood hometown of Scranton, which Trump charged him with abandoning.
‘He’ll remind us that he was born in Scranton, but you know, he left, like, 70 years ago. He left a long time ago,’ he said. ‘He wasn’t born here. He abandoned Scranton. His family had something to do with that.’
Biden’s family left Scranton because his father lost his job, a story Biden often tells on the campaign trail as his way to empathize with people who are going through tough times.
When the president first made the charge of May of last year that Biden abandoned the state – a key one in November’s election – Biden shot back in a long Twitter thread, sharing a story he’s weaved into his campaign stump speech.
‘I’ve never forgotten where I came from. My family did have to leave Pennsylvania when I was 10 — we moved to Delaware where my Dad found a job that could provide for our family,’ Biden wrote.
He argued Trump ‘doesn’t understand that the longest walk a parent can make is up a short flight of stairs to their child’s bedroom to say, honey, I’m sorry. We have to move. You can’t go back to your school. You won’t see your friends because Daddy or Mommy lost their job.’
‘My dad had to make that walk in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized how hard it must have been for him. But he was not alone. This story isn’t unique to the Bidens. Too many people around this country have had to make that walk,’ he added.
Biden often visits his childhood home in Scranton and retains such close ties to the state it was joked in the Senate he was Pennsylvania’s ‘third senator.’
Pennsylvania could make or break this year’s presidential election. Its votes helped put Trump in the White House in 2016 when he became the first Republican to carry it in more than 20 years.
But he won it by less than 1 per cent and Biden will campaign hard there to return it to the Democrats’ corner.
And Biden leads Trump in Pennsylvania by 6.4 points according to the RealClearPolitics polling average in that state.
Trump, meanwhile, began his counter-programming to Biden’s big night on Thursday morning in a fury of tweets, knocking out retweet after retweet of criticism against Biden, his running mate Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama, who presented a blistering indictment against Trump’s presidency in his convention speech Wednesday night.
‘President Obama is making it a habit of campaigning in Philly for losing Presidential candidates,’ read one of the retweets. Obama and Hillary Clinton held the last rally of her 2016 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, just before she lost the election to Trump.
And he repeated his false claim that Biden wants to defund the police, with a retweet from his campaign war room featuring a clip from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and the words: ‘Democrats want a world without police, without prisons, and without virtually any sort of law enforcement. These are today’s Democrats. This is Joe Biden’s America.’
Trump also retweeted himself from the night before questioning attack lines Harris used against Biden during the Democratic presidential primary. And he touted his campaign’s counter punches to Biden’s big night, including an online show Thursday evening featuring Kimberly Guilfoyle interviewing her boyfriend and Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. about the 2020 campaign.
In addition to Thursday’s Pennsylvania stop, Trump will also give an interview to Fox News’ Sean Hannity an hour before Biden addresses the Democratic National Convention, to formally accept the presidential nomination.
Traditionally, the nominee of the other party stays quiet during their rival’s convention week.
Trump threw that rule out the window this week with his trips to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Arizona to criticize Biden.