The town hall was held like a drive-through, highlighting the unprecedented last few months of campaigning after the coronavirus pandemic led Biden’s campaign to cancel public rallies where supporters have gathered inside. Biden and CNN moderator Anderson Cooper stood on stage and questioners parked their cars around them and approached the microphones near the stage to ask questions.
During the event, the Democratic presidential candidate scoffed at Trump’s claims that Biden’s election would lead to widespread violence and chaos on the streets of America – and particularly in the suburbs. And he touted his own ability to unify the country, highlighting his record as a senator and saying he never questioned the motives of his political opponents.
“I’m not going to be a Democratic president. I’m going to be the president of the United States, ”Biden said.
Scranton vs. Park Ave.
Biden sought to frame voter choice around a new shorthand: his hometown of Scranton, representing American wage earners, blue-collar workers, and Park Avenue, home of a few wealthy people who profit from the work of others.
“I see this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue,” Biden said. “All Trump can see from Park Avenue is Wall Street. All he thinks about is the stock market. ”
It was an attack on Trump’s management of the economy – an area in which polls have shown the president to be outperforming his overall numbers. Biden called Trump’s economic record one that has benefited the rich but ignored the working class.
“In my neighborhood of Scranton, few people (owned shares). We need to make sure that health care workers are paid and paid a living wage. At $ 15 an hour? This is not enough for a healthcare worker ”. Biden said.
Biden resists progressive priorities
Biden pushed back more progressive rivals in the Democratic primary and showed Thursday night that he resists being pressured to adopt some of the left’s priorities that could harm him politically.
He insisted he would not end hydraulic fracturing for natural gas – a major industry in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. And when a speaker who voted for Trump in 2016 said Biden had embraced the Green New Deal as part of his climate change platform, the former vice president said she was wrong.
“I have my own deal,” he told Cooper in response to a question about the Green New Deal, pointing to a climate agenda his campaign had negotiated with allies of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, then the Committee. National Democrat adopted it Platform.
Challenging Barr’s inflammatory comments
The former vice president referred to Attorney General William Barr’s recent comment as he addressed a Constitution Day celebration hosted by Hillsdale College that lockdowns to fight the coronavirus were the “biggest intrusion into civil liberties “from history” other than slavery “.
“What Bill Barr said recently is outrageous,” Biden said, echoing other Democrats who condemned Barr’s comment on Thursday. “I’m going to tell you what takes away your freedom: not being able to see your child, not being able to go to the football game or the baseball game, not seeing your sick mother or father in the hospital, not being able to do things are what cost us our freedom. ”
It was part of Biden’s effort to keep the electorate focused on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic – and the costs that accrued as a result of the revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book that Trump had known in February about the dangers of the virus but minimized them publicly.
“It was this president’s failure to deal with this virus, and he knew it,” Biden said. “He knew the details. He knew it in plain words. “
A stark contrast to Trump
The most glaring differences between Biden and Trump are often stylistic. Biden on Thursday night showed empathy and – in comments on cancer and his son Beau Biden – humanity.
Trump, in an ABC town hall earlier in the week, had often challenged the premises of voters’ questions.
Biden’s most acute moment on Thursday night might have come when he condemned Trump’s, as reported by The Atlantic, qualifying those killed and wounded in the war as “losers” and “suckers.”
Biden said he was offended by Trump’s comment, which he said applied to “guys like my son,” referring to Beau Biden, who toured Iraq in the Delaware National Guard while he was State Attorney General.
“Talk about the losers,” added an angry Biden.
“I don’t trust the President for the vaccines. I trust Dr Fauci “
Biden continued to question Trump’s claims that a coronavirus vaccine would be ready – or close to it – in time for the Nov. 3 general election. But, he says, he would believe the timelines and steps detailed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I don’t trust the president on vaccines. I trust Dr. Fauci, ”Biden said. “If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I would take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists, not the president. ”
His comment comes as the Trump campaign and his allies have alleged that by casting doubt on the president’s vaccine claims, Biden is undermining confidence in a potential vaccine. Biden, meanwhile, says Trump is trying to pretend a cure-all is imminent in order to blunt the political fallout from his handling of the virus enough to win a second term.