WILMINGTON, Del. – A visibly angry Joseph R. Biden Jr. beat up President Trump on Friday over reports that Mr. Trump had made extremely disrespectful remarks about fallen soldiers, suggesting such words confirm his view that the Republican is not in the Is able to serve as commander in chief.
In a fiery speech and press conference that followed, Mr Biden sought to contain his outrage over a report from the Atlantic that Mr Trump had referred to American soldiers killed in action in World War I as “losers” and “fools” and repeated on them showed contempt for military service in other parts of his presidency. Mr Trump and some of his aides declined to report, which cited but failed to name multiple sources.
Mr Biden flipped through a list of other well-documented cases in which Mr Trump had dismissed the victims of military veterans, including the victims of the late Senator John McCain: “President Trump has shown that he has no sense of service, no loyalty to one other thing than yourself. “
Mr Biden, who at times found himself trying to keep his language in check to achieve a presidential tone, spoke strikingly personally on Friday about the military service of his late son Beau Biden, who was at war in Iraq and died of brain cancer in 2015.
With barely hidden anger, he said that Beau Biden was “no fool,” adding, “The soldiers and women he served with, especially those who didn’t come home, weren’t” losers. “
He called the coverage “damn” and said it seemed true. He added, “I’ve never been so disappointed with a leader in my entire career.”
“It’s sick,” said Mr. Biden, who is very attuned to the death toll of American troops and often ends with the sentence, “May God protect our troops.” “It’s sad. It’s so un-American. It’s so unpatriotic. “
Military veterans often lean on Republicans and, according to polls, supported Mr Trump in the 2016 election by a large margin over Hillary Clinton. But in 2018 some of the most prominent Democratic House candidates were veterans, and Mr Biden, backed by a long list of Republican national security experts, is hoping to appeal to more voters with military ties.
Mr Biden’s criticism of Mr Trump came in a speech that otherwise focused on the economy, an area that has been a source of political strength for the president, although the ravages of the pandemic have threatened his standing on the issue. In a national poll by Quinnipiac University released Wednesday, voters were likely to be equally divided on whether Mr Trump or Mr Biden would handle the economy better.
But Mr Biden’s comments about the President set the tone for his event. When asked about supporters of QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory, Mr. Biden replied, “I was a big advocate of mental health. I would recommend to people who think maybe it should take advantage of it while it still exists in the Affordable Care Act. It’s bizarre. Totally bizarre. “
Before Mr Biden’s speech, the Department of Labor provided a snapshot of the ongoing economic impact of the virus. Employment growth slowed in August, the department said as the economy added 1.4 million jobs, less than the previous three months. The number of employees is still more than 11 million below its level before the pandemic. The unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in April to 8.4 percent.
“You can’t see an economic comeback when nearly 1,000 Americans die from Covid every day,” Biden said in his speech, accusing the president of handling the virus. Reversing an attack the Republicans had launched against him, he declared, “You are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.”
In response to the job report, a Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement that Mr Biden “hopes for economic ruin to fuel his political fortunes”.
“While the work is still ongoing,” he said, “President Trump’s guidelines have enabled us to weather the coronavirus crisis and reopen it faster than doomsday hunters like Biden had predicted.”
Thomas Kaplan reported from Wilmington and Katie Glueck from New York.