Thompson: U.S. in ‘Great American Comeback’

The nation is in the midst of the “Great American Comeback,” U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson said during a visit to The Era on Thursday.

Thompson, R-Pa., said he’s been to a few rallies with President Donald Trump, including one recently in Erie.

“The energy, the enthusiasm — it’s amazing,” the congressman said. “I love working with the man, the leadership I see. Behind the scenes, working with him in the Oval Office, the Cabinet room or even on Air Force One one time with him, he has sought out my counsel, my opinions.

“He even asked my feedback on his tweets one time,” Thompson said with a laugh.

He said Trump told him that his staff said his tweet wasn’t helpful, so he asked what Thompson thought: “I said, ‘No, it wasn’t helpful, and this is why.’ He said, ‘OK, I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective; it makes sense.”

Thompson explained he sees a different side of Trump than the “New York street kid” who at times says rude or hurtful things.

“(Trump) cares about getting things done,” Thompson said. “He’s always open. He’s very focused.”

While many are predicting a “blue wave” of Democrats being voted into office in the upcoming midterm election, Thompson, who is up for re-election himself, challenged by Democrat Susan Boser of Indiana, said he doesn’t see it.

“Statewide about 50,000 Democrats have changed their registration to Republican since the (Supreme Court Justice Brett) Kavanaugh hearings,” the congressman said. “About 25,000 independents have changed to Republican.

“I have counties — not many, but a few — that flipped from a Democratic majority to a Republican majority in the past year,” he said. “I think part of it is (members of) the Democratic Party now openly embracing socialism. I don’t think they understand what it is.

“Look at the plight of the people who live in socialist countries and how they suffer,” Thompson continued. “I don’t think that’s embraced by the rank-and-file Democrats or Republicans. I think that’s just one reason why I don’t think there is any kind of ‘blue wave.’ In fact, I think (GOP) enthusiasm is at a record level.

The five-term congressman from State College said he goes to events and “attendance is way up. I think people are looking to come out and defend what I’ve been calling the Great American Comeback.”

Wages have climbed, unemployment is low, people have been getting off public assistance and back into the job market, he said.

“The comeback is real and it’s benefitting our families,” Thompson said.

“We have estimated 7.1 million jobs that are open and available,” he said, adding that his recent bill on career and technical education has been signed into law and is addressing the skills gap to connect students with career opportunities.

“One of my passions has been to close the skills gap,” he said. “What (the bill) is going to do is to invest an additional billion dollars to provide more access to technical education.

“It’s just exciting to be able to help a lot of people climb the ladder of opportunity,” Thompson said. “I think what the legislation does is add rungs to the ladder.”

The congressman mentioned, too, that it is “totally unacceptable” that violence of any kind be used against anyone for apparently political reasons, referring to explosive devices sent to former Presidents Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other critics of Trump, including CNN in New York.

He referred to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana in 2017 at baseball practice before an annual charity game.

“There’s no place for that in our society,” Thompson said. “That’s what happens in a Third World country where they don’t experience the opportunities we have for the right to self determination. We have elections every year. People participate. We make changes in leadership in a civil and peaceful way.”

He mentioned attacks on Rand Paul and harassment other Republican politicians or cabinet members have experienced in public: “That’s just unacceptable. The mob mentality is not what this country is all about.”

Thompson will be in Warren today to meet with the new U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, who will be at the office of the Allegheny National Forest.

The 15th District, which Thompson currently represents, covers McKean, Elk, Cameron, Warren, Forest, Venango, Clarion, Armstrong, Indiana, Jefferson and Clearfield counties, and parts of Cambria, Butler and Centre counties.