Biden Bashes Trump’s Leadership on Pandemic, Trump Attacks Biden on Trade

US President Joe Biden

Democrat Joe Biden slammed U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Trump criticized Biden’s record on trade on Monday as the White House contenders battled for votes in key Midwestern battleground states, Reuters writes.

With U.S. deaths from COVID-19 approaching 200,000, Biden said on a campaign stop in Wisconsin that Trump “froze” when faced with the enormous challenge posed by the health crisis and was not capable of the leadership needed to confront it.

“He just wasn’t up to it. He froze. He failed to act. He panicked,” Biden said after meeting workers at an aluminum manufacturing plant in Manitowoc, south of Green Bay.

Biden, who is trying to win back Wisconsin after Trump carried it narrowly in 2016, made a direct appeal to blue-collar voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but shifted to Trump.

“The simple truth is that Donald Trump ran for office saying he would represent the forgotten men and women of this country – and then once in office, he forgot them,” Biden said.

In Ohio, Trump criticized Biden’s past support for free-trade deals that he said had cost the state jobs and hurt the economy in the upper Midwest.

“Joe Biden should not be asking for your support. He should be begging for your forgiveness,” Trump said.

He criticized Biden’s past support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been replaced by a new pact under Trump, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump withdrew from in 2017 after he took office.

“He betrayed you, he lied to you, he abused you. Which is why it’s time to retire Joe Biden,” he said.

The two candidates’ speeches marked a return to the themes that dominated the race before the death on Friday of liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which has shifted the focus to the coming battle over confirming her replacement.

Trump is moving quickly to fill Ginsburg’s seat in hopes of cementing a 6-3 conservative majority on the court, a key priority for social conservatives, before the Nov. 3 election.

The rallies were also a reminder of the importance of the two battleground states. Polls show Biden leading by several points in Wisconsin, mirroring his overall lead nationwide, and Trump ahead in Ohio, which he won by 8 percentage points in 2016.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll on Monday showed Biden leading Trump among likely voters in Wisconsin, while the two are about even in Pennsylvania, another battleground state.

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