Biden insists he'll tackle coronavirus as Trump pushes 'super-recovery'

WARM SPRINGS (AFP) – Mr Joe Biden flayed US President Donald Trump on Tuesday (Oct 27) accusing his rival of surrendering to a surging pandemic, as the Democrat took his campaign to the Republican stronghold of Georgia one week before the US election.

While the former vice-president went on electoral offence, seeking to expand the campaign map and his state-by-state path to victory on Nov 3, Mr Trump barnstormed the Midwest in a last-gasp bid to shore up states that voted for him in 2016 but which polls show are tilting Mr Biden’s way.

And with the campaign narrowing down to its final days, Mr Biden tapped one of his top surrogates, popular former president Barack Obama, to deliver a closing argument for Democrats in Florida, a must-win swing state for Mr Trump if he is to defy the odds and earn reelection.

Mr Biden, buoyed by poll numbers that show him leading the incumbent, drilled in on Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, reminding voters that Mr Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows conceded at the weekend that “we’re not going to control the pandemic”.

Mr Biden, speaking in Warm Springs, Georgia, branded the response “a capitulation” by a White House that “never really tried” to halt a pandemic which has now killed more than 226,000 Americans.

Instead of acting as a wartime president to battle Covid-19 as he promised, Mr Trump “shrugged, he swaggered and he surrendered”, Mr Biden said.

“I’m here to tell you: We can and we will control this virus,” he added.

“If you give me the honour of serving as your president, clear the decks for action,” he said. “For we will act… on the first day of my presidency to get Covid under control.”

‘Working my ass off!’

Mr Biden, 77, was holding a socially distanced drive-in rally later in Atlanta, Georgia’s largest city.

Mr Trump defeated Mrs Hillary Clinton by five points in Georgia in 2016 but polls have the 74-year-old running neck-in-neck with Mr Biden in the Peach State.

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Georgia last voted for a Democrat for president nearly three decades ago – Mr Bill Clinton in 1992 – but the Biden campaign has high hopes of flipping the state and also winning its two US Senate seats up for grabs.

Mr Trump meanwhile maintained his hectic campaign pace, holding an open-air rally in Michigan followed by two events in Wisconsin.

Both are Midwestern battlegrounds which he won by razor thin margins four years ago, but Mr Trump insisted “we’re leading almost everywhere” thanks to his frantic campaign schedule.

“I’ve got to say I’m working my ass off here!” he boomed in Lansing, Michigan, eliciting a huge cheer.

Mr Trump also said his pandemic policies and economic chops would serve the nation better than Biden.

“This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery or Biden depression,” he said.

But with Covid-19 cases rising in several states and no agreement yet on a pandemic rescue package in Congress, US stocks mostly slid on Tuesday for a third straight session.

Mr Trump was to finish the day with a campaign rally in Omaha, Nebraska.

‘Bring it home’

Election tracking website RealClearPolitics has Mr Biden up 7.6 points in an average of national polls and leading Mr Trump by nine points in Michigan. In Wisconsin Mr Biden is up by an average of 5.5 points.

Mr Trump dismissed the polls in a tweet on Tuesday and accused the media of focusing on “Covid, Covid, Covid” to hurt his chances for reelection.

“The Real Polls are now saying that I am WINNING!” he said.

Mr Trump also touted the confirmation on Monday of his latest Supreme Court nominee, Ms Amy Coney Barrett, as a landmark victory for conservatives.

“We made history” by getting Barrett, his third high court nominee, onto the court, he said. “She’s going to be fantastic.”

With Mr Biden maintaining a more constrained campaign schedule instead of hosting what he called Mr Trump’s “super-spreader” events, he dispatched Mr Obama to Florida, where polls show Mr Trump has edged into the slightest of leads.

Mr Obama offered a searing indictment of Mr Trump, accusing him of incompetence, repeated lies, embracing dictators and ignoring the pandemic.

But he also offered a blunt assessment of how apathy in 2016 may have sunk Mrs Clinton’s hopes of defeating Mr Trump, telling Democrats at a drive-in rally in Orlando to make a plan and vote early.

“We were complacent last time. Folks got a little lazy, folks took things for granted, and look what happened,” Mr Obama said.

“Not this time. Not in this election,” he said. “Let’s bring it home.”

The White House said meanwhile that it was closely following the situation in Philadelphia, where protests broke out overnight following the fatal police shooting of a 27-year-old Black man, who was holding a knife.

The shooting was the latest to spark anger in a nation which has experienced waves of protests for racial justice this year.

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