Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday used the occasion of his first news conference in nearly 90 days to launch a fresh attack on United States President Donald Trump for what he called the president’s “historic mismanagement” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, the former vice president argued that earlier action by Trump would have reduced the number who fell ill and the economic impact of the virus. Biden accused Trump of “outright ignoring the crisis” as cases rise.
Biden said Trump, who at one point in the pandemic declared himself a “wartime president”, appears to have given up the fight.
“Now it’s almost July and it seems our wartime president has surrendered, waved the white flag and abandoned the battlefield,” Biden said.
At least 2.6 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the US and more than 126,000 deaths – a higher number of cases and fatalities than in any other country.
Trump and his allies say the toll of the virus could have been larger without travel bans he put in place for visitors from China, and later from Europe. They have argued that the increasing numbers of confirmed cases in recent weeks are largely attributable to more testing, although the rate of positive tests has also been rising.
In a statement released ahead of the address, Biden’s campaign called it “impossible” to predict the state of the pandemic on inauguration day next January, but said Biden “won’t wait to take action”, and promised one of his first actions would be to ask Dr Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s leading infectious disease expert, to continue serving.
America’s Divided Democrats | Fault Lines (25:46)
In response to Biden’s attacks, Trump campaign spokeswoman Courtney Parella said the presumptive Democratic nominee was “fearmongering and rooting against America’s success” while Trump leads a public and private-sector mobilisation that has slowed the spread of the virus.
The Republican president is trailing Biden in polls ahead of the November 3 election. A June 22-23 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 37 percent of Americans approved of the way Trump has responded to the pandemic – the lowest since the pandemic began.
At Tuesday’s news conference, Biden said he hoped to announce his choice as a running mate in early August. He has promised to select a woman for the position and has been under pressure from many Democrats to pick a woman of colour.
Al Jazeera and news agencies