President Donald Trump and Joe Biden gave some sort of preview of debate performance in various swing states on Thursday as the Democratic candidate asked the president to step down over his Covid-19 response while Trump hammered Biden over his political agenda.
Biden held a drive-through Pennsylvania City Hall with CNN, hosted by Anderson Cooper, where the former vice president was asked a series of political questions from voters across the political spectrum, and attacked the president sharply. In response to Trump’s coronavirus response, Biden has upset the president, who was recently heard on Audio and told veteran journalist Bob Woodward that he had deliberately downplayed the virus.
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In the cold of Wisconsin, Trump spoke for over an hour and 30 minutes at a somewhat noisy rally where the president read on a teleprompter but largely deviated from the script and beat his political rivals with familiar attacks and lies.
He called Biden a puppet of the party’s progressive wing and went on to claim his administration’s response to Covid-19 was “great”.
“When you look at all the problems we have, even if someone brought them up today, we are doing an excellent job compared to other countries dealing with the coronavirus. We had 22 different names. I call it the China virus. We’re doing a great job, ”said Trump, thanking Vice President Mike Pence, who chaired the coronavirus task force.
However, earlier Thursday, a former top Pence advisor claimed the president was indifferent to the pandemic. Polls also show that the majority of Americans are unhappy with his response to the pandemic.
Trump is in a tough re-election campaign with national polls showing he will lag Biden as November 3rd approaches quickly. Their first debate is scheduled for September 29th in Cleveland on Fox News.
The president has cheered on his hundreds of supporters who have gathered in an airport hangar in Mosinee, a country he won in 2016. Trump’s campaign focuses on recruiting grassroots supporters in more rural parts of the state to make up for expected deficits in cities and suburbs to compete against Biden.
Few participants wore face masks and supporters stood elbow to elbow and made no effort to maintain social distance. Health officials in Marathon County said they had seen a “significant increase” in Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks, while Wisconsin also had a record rate of positivity across the country.
Trump criticized Biden for leaving the state as vice president and called Biden’s political agenda bad for jobs in Wisconsin.
“Biden has given your jobs to China and you know it. Without that I probably wouldn’t be here, “said Trump, and later added:” If Biden wins, quite simply, China wins. If Biden wins, the mob wins. If Biden wins, the rioters, the anarchists, the arsonists win. “
Trump promised, without giving details, that he would give the farmers in the state billions in aid.
“I am proud to announce that I am doing more to support the farmers in Wisconsin,” said Trump. “Starting next week, my government is providing an additional – you have long asked – $ 13 billion to help farmers recover from the China virus, including Wisconsin’s incredible milk, cranberry and ginseng farmers who were seriously injured. “
During his return flight to Washington aboard Air Force One, Trump appeared to have put the delivery of that money on the shoulders of Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi as Congress and his administration continue to debate the next round of coronavirus aid.
“Now she’s playing around with the farmers, she doesn’t want to give farm help. She doesn’t want to give the farmers any help,” said Trump. “I can’t tell you what she’s doing, but I can say it should be done, it would be a good thing, it’s not her fault, it’s not the people’s fault, it’s China’s fault.”
Biden was in his hometown of Scranton, another area of the rust belt that is vital to the 2020 election. The former vice president took the moment to face the president, who at his rally in Wisconsin claimed that Biden was “wiping out” the Wisconsin economy and damaging American jobs.
“I really see this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue,” said Biden. “Because you know how we grew up in this area, a lot of hardworking people have broken their necks. All they ask is a shot, just a shot. All Trump could see from Park Avenue is Wall Street. “
Biden has been pressured for how he sees China, an issue the president has launched baseless attacks on the former vice president’s relationship with the leadership in Beijing.
“I see China as a competitor, a serious competitor,” said Biden. “That’s why I think we need to strengthen our relationships and alliances in Asia.”
One of the City Hall’s tense moments was when Cooper Biden pressed on fracking, an industry big in Pennsylvania. Trump has claimed Biden wants to ban it, but the former vice president has said he just wants to ban new fracking on public property.
“It sounds like you’re trying to have it both ways,” Cooper said to Biden as he pressed his posture.
“Fracking needs to continue because we need a transition,” said Biden. “There are currently no reasons to eliminate (fracking).”
Biden was also asked about the policing and race-related riots across the country, responding to Trump’s attempt to blame the Democrats for the rising crime.
“The president is talking about ‘in Joe Biden’s America,'” he said. “I have to remind him that he might really lose it. He’s president … This is Donald Trump’s America.”