Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris took aim at President Trump over the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, hours before the president gave his prime-time acceptance speech at the last night of the Republican National Convention.
In a speech in the nation’s capital, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate accused Trump of “failing miserably” in leading the federal response to the coronavirus. And she claimed “Donald Trump froze – he was scared” as the pandemic swept across the country earlier this year.
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Harris’ speech – and Biden’s interviews on two of the three major national cable news networks – served as a pre-counter to the president’s speech, which will be held on the South Lawn of the White House – a few blocks away. George Washington University homes. where the California senator gave his speech.
“Donald Trump has failed in the most basic and most important job of a President of the United States – he has failed to protect the American people. Plain and simple, ”Harris accused.
The former California attorney general and the San Francisco district attorney argued that “Trump has shown what we in the legal profession would call a reckless disregard for the welfare of the American people, a reckless disregard for the danger that ‘a pandemic would weigh heavily on American life. ”
Listing what she described as the president’s missteps at the start of the coronavirus crisis, Harris claimed that “Donald Trump froze. He was scared. And he was mean and vindictive. ”
“And here’s what you need to understand about the nature of a pandemic: It is relentless. You can’t stop it with a tweet. You cannot create a distraction and hope that it will go away. It won’t go away, ”she said.
Trump’s re-election campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh – responding to Harris’ comments – told Fox News that “Americans have seen President Trump ahead and lead the country in the fight against the coronavirus. ”
He argued that “we would be in a much worse position today if Joe Biden had been president in January” and accused Biden of “doing nothing but criticizing, opposing and suggesting things the president did. has already done ”.
Biden, in an interview with MSNBC, also targeted Trump. Highlighting the daily national death toll from the virus, the former vice-president stressed that “all the people who die from COVID, more than 1000 again yesterday”. And he said that “we are in a worse situation than any other country in the world right now”.
THE LATEST ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC FROM FOX NEWS
For months, Biden strongly criticized Trump’s response to the pandemic – arguing that the president initially downplayed the severity of the crisis, then botched the federal government’s response. The president pushed back, highlighting his early ban on flights from China – where the virus originated from – and his administration’s handling of testing and provision of ventilators and personal protective equipment to people on the front lines .
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 180,000 people across the country, with the number of COVID-19 cases approaching 6 million people. Tens of millions of people remain unemployed after much of the economy closed in the spring to prevent the spread of the virus. The United States has recorded more cases and deaths than any other country.
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Following last week’s Democratic convention, where Trump’s handling of the coronavirus was pilloried, the president’s efforts were repeatedly praised in the first two nights of the GOP convention. A campaign-style video hailed Trump as the “one leader” who resisted the virus. A nurse from West Virginia who spoke at the convention noted that “as a medical professional, I can tell you without hesitation that the swift action and leadership of Donald Trump saved thousands of lives. during COVID-19.
And in an appearance Monday night with doctors, nurses and other frontline workers, the president stressed that “we just need to make this Chinese virus go away, and it’s happening. ”
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday gave the impression that the pandemic was over.
“It was horrible,” Kudlow said during his appearance at the convention, using the past to describe a pandemic that still kills more than 1,000 Americans a day. “The health and economic impacts have been tragic. Difficulties and grief were everywhere. But the presidential leadership came swiftly and efficiently with an extraordinary health and safety rescue to successfully fight the COVID virus.
Vice President Mike Pence – who led the White House Coronavirus Task Force – in his acceptance speech Wednesday night touted Trump’s efforts as “the biggest national mobilization since World War II …. We’ve built hospitals, beefed up military medics, and adopted an economic bailout that saved 50 million American jobs.
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Harris pushed back on Thursday, saying the current state of the pandemic in the United States is a reality completely absent from this week’s Republican National Convention. Because unlike the Democratic convention, which was very clear about which challengers we face and how we’re going to face them, the Republican convention is designed for one purpose, to appease Donald Trump’s ego, to make him feel good.
And Biden, in his interview, described the president as “an extreme fiction writer.”
In another move ahead of the GOP chairman’s closing address, the Biden campaign released a two-minute TV commercial that will air ahead of the convention programming Thursday night on Fox News, ABC, CBS and NBC. The campaign said the ad will also run in a key battlefield state throughout the weekend.
“We are a nation that has been hit hard by this virus. But Joe Biden knows that when you get knocked down, you get up off the mat, ”the narrator said instantly.
And pointing to the former vice president, the narrator points out that “we won’t have to wait to deal with COVID-19, he already has a plan.”
Fox News’ Allie Raffa and Madeleine Rivera contributed to this story