Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is questioning President Trump’s actions since the president was diagnosed a week and a half ago with COVID-19.
The former vice president also charged that Trump and his re-election campaign “deliberately lied” in a new TV ad that uses a clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci . The government’s top infectious diseases authority stated on Sunday that the ad takes his comments out of context.
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Biden, speaking Monday in the crucial general election battleground state of Ohio, said that Trump’s “reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis has been unconscionable.
“The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he seems to get,” Biden said.
The president was hospitalized for three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after testing positive for COVID-19, and Trump acknowledged in a video recorded last Wednesday that when “I went into the hospital a week ago. I was very sick.”
But on Sunday, the president claimed that he no longer has the coronavirus and in an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures” he argued that “it seems like I’m immune.”
The White House, however, has not confirmed that Trump has tested negative for the virus.
The Trump campaign ad – which hit the airwaves last week – pushes back on criticism over the president’s response the coronavirus pandemic, which has contributed to the deaths of nearly 215,000 Americans since the beginning of the year, with more than 7.7 million cases of the virus.
The spot uses a soundbite of Fauci – who’s the most visible expert on the White House coronavirus task force – saying in March that he “can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.” On Sunday, Fauci said he was “taken out of context.”
“In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed nor do I now endorse any political candidates,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement. “The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”
On Monday, Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the advertisement should be taken down.
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The Trump campaign said they would continue to run the commercial despite Fauci’s objections, saying “these are Dr. Fauci’s own words.”
Biden on Monday charged that “Trump and his campaign deliberately lied,” adding that “even after Fauci laid this out, the campaign said we’re still going to use it because he did say it.”
Biden spoke at a campaign event outside the United Workers’ Local 14 union hall in Toledo, Ohio. Local 14 represents auto workers at General Motors’ Toledo Powertrain Plant. Biden stood in front of several GM cars that the plant equips with transmissions, including the Wrangler and Gladiator.
And Biden spoke to a parking lot full of roughly 30 vehicles filled with supporters, who repeatedly honked and cheered during his speech. At times, the counter-protesters supporting Trump who were assembled down the street could be faintly heard yelling “four more years.”
Biden criticized Trump for his handling of the coronavirus and an economy flattened by the pandemic.
“Times are hard. Unemployment is way up due to the pandemic and the terrible way in which its been handled,” Biden said. “The economic outlook remains uncertain. Across Ohio and the country folks are worried about making the next mortgage payment or rent payment, whether or not they can purchase their prescription drugs or be able to put food on the table.”
Biden also stressed that average Americans “see the people at the very top doing better than they ever have while they’re left to wonder ‘who’s looking out for me.’ That’s Donald Trump’s presidency – 215,000 dead because of COVID. Experts say we’re likely to lose another 200,000 people in the next few months unless we take some serious action, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
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Biden headed to Cincinnati after his stop in Toledo – to headline a get out the vote effort.
President Trump took to Twitter after Biden’s first Ohio event claiming that “almost nobody showed up to the Sleepy Joe Biden ‘Rally’ in Ohio.”
However, Biden hasn’t actually been holding rallies. Amid the pandemic, his events are much smaller in scope, with a limited audience that is socially distanced, with masks often mandated.
The president, by contrast, had been holding rallies on airport tarmacs and in hangers, with thousands of people packed together without masks, often in violation of state coronavirus restrictions — potentially putting his own supporters at risk. Trump flew to Florida on Monday afternoon to hold his first rally since getting the all clear by his doctors to resume campaigning following his coronavirus diagnosis.
As Biden headed Monday for Ohio, his campaign announced that he had once again tested negative for COVID-19.
Ohio has long played a crucial role in presidential elections. It was famously the state that put President George W. Bush over the top in 2004, as he won a second term in the White House.
President Barack Obama narrowly carried the state in 2008 and 2012. Four years ago, it appeared it would be another close contest, with an average of the polls on the eve of the 2016 election indicating that Trump held a 2.2 point edge over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
But Trump ended up swamping Clinton by 8 points, flipping the state from blue to red and winning Ohio’s 18 electoral votes.
Trump’s margin of victory was the largest by any presidential candidate in nearly three decades. Contributing to Trump’s success was his targeting of free trade deals supported by Democrats. He specifically blasted the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing that it had allowed auto and steel factories to flee Ohio and destroy part of the state’s economy.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh spotlighted that “President Trump won Ohio convincingly in 2016 and will do so again in November, so we are thrilled to see Joe Biden wasting a valuable day on the campaign trail visiting a state he cannot win.”
But Murtaugh’s statement came as Vice President Mike Pence was also stumping in Ohio on Monday, holding an event in Columbus, the state capital.
At the beginning of the 2020 election cycle, Ohio wasn’t expected to be a battleground in the White House race. But the state’s now very much in play. The stop by Biden was his second in Ohio in less than two weeks. He launched a train tour in the eastern part of the state the morning after he and Trump faced off in Cleveland for their first and so far only presidential debate.
An average of the latest public opinion polls in the state give Biden a razor thin edge over the president.
The Biden campaign is currently running television commercials in the state by the Trump campaign is dark on the airwaves. The Trump campaign argued on Monday that the lack of TV spots in Ohio “doesn’t mean that we’re scaling back but that we’re being smart with the president’s money.”