AT TOWN HALL, BIDEN BASHES TRUMP’S ‘ALMOST CRIMINAL’ CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
MOOSIC, Pa. — Joe Biden on Thursday went after President Donald Trump again and again over his handling of COVID-19, calling Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic “criminal” and his administration “totally irresponsible.”
“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton.
Speaking about Trump’s admission that he publicly played down the impact of the virus while aware of its severity, Biden declared: “He knew it and did nothing. It’s close to criminal.”
Later, Biden decried Americans’ loss of basic “freedoms” as the U.S. has struggled to contain the pandemic, like the ability to go to a ballgame or walk around their neighborhoods. “I never, ever thought I would see just such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration,” he said.
Biden faced a half-dozen questions about the coronavirus and a potential vaccine in the town hall from moderator Anderson Cooper and audience members. The pandemic was not just the main topic of the night — it was the cause of the unusual format of the event: a drive-in with 35 cars outside PNC Field.
The town hall marked the first time that Biden had faced live, unscripted questions from voters since winning the nomination. Trump participated in a town hall Tuesday in an auditorium in Philadelphia.
Biden was pressed on his stance on the Green New Deal, the sweeping proposal from progressives in Congress that calls for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by 2030. Biden’s proposal doesn’t go as far, but it does aim to reduce emissions to zero by 2050 and has a goal of achieving an entirely carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.
Biden interrupted a questioner who suggested his climate plan embraces the Green New Deal to insist, “No, it doesn’t,” but when asked by the moderator if he supports the proposal, he said, “I don’t think it’s too much.”
Still, Biden added, “I have my own deal,” which he noted the Democratic Party has incorporated as part of its platform.
Biden also promised to reduce America’s military footprint and said that if he’s elected and it becomes clear post-election that Russia interfered in the election, “they’ll pay a price for it, and it’ll be an economic price.”
Biden described Russia as an “opponent,” but he called China a “competitor” and pledged to improve trade policy with it.