September 30, 2020
During the final moments of Tuesday night’s presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Republican incumbent claimed that “bad things happen in Philadelphia,” — sending social media into an absolute frenzy.
The debate moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, asked both presidential candidates whether they would encourage their supporters to remain calm and avoid civil unrest during the election season, as well as if they would not declare victory until the results are independently-certified.
Trump refused to commit to any such pledge, and he instead cited the voting process in Philadelphia as a reason why.
“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen,” Trump said. “I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They’re called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things.”
Chris Wallace: "Will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified?"— Axios (@axios) September 30, 2020
Trump: "I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully." pic.twitter.com/oESX74834G
However, Trump’s claim that poll watchers had been blocked from observing is false. The Trump campaign has no poll watchers approved yet to work in Philly, according to the Inquirer.
The seven satellite election offices which the city commissioners opened on Tuesday are not actual polling places, and officials are limiting capacity in such locations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Poll watchers do not have the same rights at early voting locations as they do at traditional polling places.
State law allows political campaigns and parties to appoint poll watchers per precinct, where they are allowed in to observe voting and potentially raise any legal challenges. Poll watchers must have a certificate verifying their status and be registered to vote in the county where they are observing voting.
Trump had made the claim earlier Tuesday on Twitter, the latest in which he has tried to cast mail-in voting as fraudulent, after one woman claiming to be a Trump campaign poll watcher was prevented from entering a satellite election office at Overbrook Elementary School. She had no certificate proving such status.
Wow. Won’t let Poll Watchers & Security into Philadelphia Voting Places. There is only one reason why. Corruption!!! Must have a fair Election.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 29, 2020
Nevertheless, Trump’s comments during the debate sent social media abuzz, leading many to rebuke his claims about Philly.
Hold on !! He’s talking about Philly?— Kyle Lowry (@Klow7) September 30, 2020
Philly everyone please get out and VOTE!!
Donald Trump needs to keep Philly out of his mouth. We will not allow him to intimidate us—or to keep us away from the ballot box.— Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (@CouncilmemberJG) September 30, 2020
He’s going to get whupped here and he knows it.
Great things happen in Philly! #Debate2020— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) September 30, 2020
Good things happen in Philadelphia. pic.twitter.com/nkRR10ZB1m— Commissioner Al Schmidt (@Commish_Schmidt) September 30, 2020
We’re a majority minority city—a melting pot. A home to many cultures and immigrant communities. Our city's population has grown because of this. We celebrate it. pic.twitter.com/8fnW9ZDYlU— Jim #MaskUpPHL Kenney (@PhillyMayor) September 30, 2020
We’re a city of underdogs. We’re gritty and passionate about what we love. We won’t be written off. pic.twitter.com/iaKFoPFfIu— Jim #MaskUpPHL Kenney (@PhillyMayor) September 30, 2020
"Bad things are going on in Philadelphia"— Kyle Frey (@yachobscoracek) September 30, 2020
Philly sports teams: pic.twitter.com/H2GgmWvi3N
"Bad thing happen in Philadelphia, bad things."— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) September 30, 2020
Didn't expect the Phillies bullpen to make the debate stage, but here we are.
Trump: “Bad things happen in Philadelphia.”— CogginToboggan (@CogginToboggan) September 30, 2020
Eagles/76ers/Flyers/Phillies fans: “He’s got a point.”
Trump: “Bad things happen in Philadelphia”— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) September 30, 2020
Eagles fans: pic.twitter.com/WgYJMXBavC
One local company called Camden Printworks is now selling a shirt with "Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia" written across the front.
The seven satellite election offices allow residents to register to vote and request, receive, complete and submit a mail-in ballot – all in one visit. Voters are also able to drop off completed ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes could decide the presidential election. A FiveThirtyEight analysis found Pennsylvania may be the country's most important swing state. If Trump wins Pennsylvania, he has an 84% chance of being re-elected. If Biden is victorious, he has a 96% chance of winning the presidency.
Polling indicates that the race for Pennsylvania will be close. Biden currently leads Trump by an average of 5.7 points in the state, according to Real Clear Politics.
Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 1% over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first GOP presidential candidate to win the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988.