Joe Biden sent a message to voters Thursday night that radically differed from Donald Trump’s unlikely coronavirus promises, saying: “The idea that there will be a vaccine and that everything will be fine tomorrow is just not rational , but not reasonable. ”
Speaking outside a town hall in Moosic, Pa., Just south of Scranton, the Democratic candidate warned the country would not immediately return to normal life even if a coronavirus vaccine was approved soon.
Biden’s CNN town hall came two days after Donald Trump hosted a similar event in Philadelphia, but the president sent a very different message about the pandemic, again implausibly suggesting that the coronavirus was ‘going to go away’ and that ‘a vaccine would be available in a few weeks.
The unusual location of Biden’s town hall underscored the long road ahead for the country. Biden addressed an audience of around 250 voters, some of whom were seated in camping chairs next to their parked cars as the former vice president answered their questions. “Who knew drive-ins were coming back?” CNN anchor Anderson Cooper joked at the start of the event.
Echoing comments he made in a speech on Wednesday, Biden said he did not trust Trump’s statements about the development of a coronavirus vaccine, accusing the president of politicizing the matter to the good of his re-election.
“I don’t trust the president for the vaccines. I trust Dr Fauci, ”Biden said, referring to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If Fauci says the vaccine is safe, I would take the vaccine. We need to listen to the scientists, not the president. “
Biden’s comments were a notable contrast to Trump’s clash this week with Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The president questioned Redfield’s credibility on Wednesday, after the CDC director told the Senate that a coronavirus vaccine would not be widely available until the end of the second quarter or the start of the third quarter of the year next. Trump claimed Redfield was “confused” when he made this prediction.
During his town hall, Biden said Trump’s response to the pandemic had been “close to crime” and that he had not shied away from discussing the growing number of coronavirus deaths in the country, which is expected exceed 200,000 in a few days.
The first voter to ask Biden a question, Shani Adams, noted that she had recently lost her sister to coronavirus. Biden expressed his condolences to Adams and told him, “You know, we’re talking about almost 200,000 deaths and it’s almost like background noise. But that means a lot of empty chairs.
In contrast, Trump suggested Wednesday that the nation’s coronavirus death toll would be much lower if Americans living in Democratic-controlled states were not counted.
Virtually all of the answers Biden provided on Thursday seemed designed to draw a clear line between himself and the current president. Drawing on his early childhood in Pennsylvania, Biden described the presidential race as “a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue.”
When Anderson asked Biden if he believed he had enjoyed the privilege of whites in his life, the Democratic nominee admitted that he quickly switched to thinking about classism.
“Grow up here in Scranton. We’re used to guys looking at us through the noses, ”Biden said. “Guys like Trump, who inherited everything and wasted what they inherited, are the people I’ve always had a problem with. Not the people who break their necks.
While a number of Biden’s responses lacked political detail, the Democrat instead spent much of the night making a character-based argument for his candidacy. Criticizing Trump for raising doubts about the legitimacy of the election, Biden asked, “What happened to us? It’s not who we are. This is not what America is. No president has ever said anything like that.
When asked if he would accept the election results, Biden said, “Sure, the full results, count every vote. “
The next big opportunity for Biden to change their minds with undecided voters will come later this month, when he debates Trump for the first time. Biden told Cooper he has already started preparing for the debates, studying recent Trump comments, and crafting concise answers to potential questions. “I can’t wait to be there,” Biden said.