Joe Biden on Wednesday unloaded on President Donald Trump, bashing his response to the coronavirus pandemic as an example of his failed leadership that amounts to “flat-out surrendering” the fight against the disease.
“Mr. President, wake up. Get to work,” Biden said at an in-person campaign event in Darby, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. “There’s so much more to be done.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee’s specific sleep-themed dig at Trump was a counterpunch similar to the president’s preferred insulting nickname for Biden: “Sleepy Joe.”
Biden’s remarks to a small group of socially distant reporters and local lawmakers at an indoor hall had been billed as a speech that would focus on how to safely reopen the U.S. economy amid the pandemic.
And while a placard affixed in front of his lectern read, “Reopen Right: Safer and Stronger,” the former vice president, who is leading Trump in most national polls, instead used the entirety of his speech to shred the Trump administration’s pandemic response.
“He exercises no leadership, he takes no responsibility … and now he’s just flat-out surrendering the fight,” said Biden, who also trashed Trump’s claim that the United States is seeing more COVID-19 cases only because it is doing more testing as “absurd” and “tragic.”
Public health experts say those spikes in cases are due to states reopening and people relaxing their social-distancing protocols.
The Trump campaign hit back, saying in a statement to NBC News that Biden “has done nothing but sit on the sidelines fearmongering and rooting against America’s success.”
“After mostly hiding in his basement for nearly 80 days, Joe Biden has emerged to rehash his failed attacks on President Trump’s bipartisan whole-of-America approach to combatting the coronavirus,” said Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for the Trump campaign.
Biden, for his part, said at another point at his event Wednesday that, “Donald Trump’s failure to fight the coronavirus with the same focus and fire he uses to troll his enemies on Twitter is costing lives.”
“Just like he couldn’t wish COVID away in March, just like he couldn’t tweet it away in April, he can’t ignore it away in June,” the presumptive nominee railed.
“It may be good enough for Donald Trump, but it will never ever be acceptable if I am your president,” he said.
Biden’s criticism of Trump’s pandemic response was some of his harshest to date on the topic, although the former vice president has steadily upped his attention to the issue in recent weeks, holding an increasing number of public events to rip the president.
The Darby event marked Biden’s second stop of the day in Pennsylvania. Earlier, he sat down for about 30 minutes with local business owners in nearby Yeadon to discuss how the pandemic has affected their businesses.