Biden tears into Trump’s coronavirus record and makes play for Ohio

Politically important state has leaned Republican lately but Biden holds slender lead

Democratic presidential candidate and former vice-president Joe Biden exits his motorcade en route to Ohio. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Democratic presidential candidate and former vice-president Joe Biden exits his motorcade en route to Ohio. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

 

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered a strong denunciation of Donald Trump’s coronavirus and economic strategies on Monday as he visited the rust-belt state of Ohio.

At an event in Toledo, Mr Biden accused Mr Trump of “reckless personal conduct” over his handling of the pandemic.  

“This president knew back in January when he was briefed in detail by the intelligence community that this was an extremely dangerous and communicable disease … but he did nothing. Ask yourselves: why didn’t he tell us? Why didn’t he warn us?” Mr Biden said, noting that it was estimated that almost 100,000 lives could be saved over the next few months if mask-wearing were adopted nationally. Mr Biden also highlighted his own working-class roots growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, contrasting his upbringing with his opponent’s background of privilege in New York.

“I view this campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue, between Toledo and Park Avenue,” he said, referring to the upmarket Manhattan street. “All Trump can see from Park Avenue is Wall Street. That’s why the only metric of American prosperity that he values is the Dow Jones.”

Blue-collar appeal

In a direct appeal to Ohio’s blue-collar workers, he said: “Like a lot of you, I spent a lot of my life with guys like Donald Trump looking down on me, guys who thought they were better than me because they had a lot of money, guys who inherited everything they ever got and still managed to squander it. I have to admit, I’ve still got a little chip on my shoulder about it.”

Mr Biden’s visits to Toledo and Cincinnati on Monday came as polls showed the race in Ohio tightening. Though Mr Trump won the midwestern state comfortably in 2016 by more than eight points, a New York Times-Siena College poll this month put the Democratic nominee one point ahead, with 45 per cent of the vote compared with 44 per cent for Trump. With 18 electoral college votes, Ohio is important politically but has increasingly leaned Republican in recent years.

Vice-president Mike Pence also campaigned in the state on Monday, holding a campaign event at a local construction company in Columbus. Standing alongside workers wearing hard hats and holding signs reading “Workers for Trump” and “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” Mr Pence declared that “the road to victory runs right through the Buckeye state”, referring to Ohio’s nickname.

He also criticised Mr Biden’s trade policies, which he linked to widespread job losses in the area, touting the USMCA, the revised trade deal with Mexico and Canada negotiated by the Trump administration. During the event he was interrupted several times by protesters, including one man who shouted “How do you call yourself a Christian?” before being escorted out.