“Today, once again, we are a divided house,” said Biden, framed by a row of American flags with the Gettysburg Hills behind him. “But that, my friend, can no longer be. We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have too bright a future to be castaway on the banks of anger, hatred and division.
In a gripping speech – one that drew on Abraham Lincoln’s speech at the same location, site of one of the war’s bloodiest battles, and Lyndon Johnson’s remarks from there a hundred years later – Biden warned of the “cost of division” and his fears. this partisanship threatened to undermine the central pillars of American democracy.
Biden has vowed to rule as “US President,” the one who would seek bipartisan solutions to the nation’s most important problems, including the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice and economic turmoil.
Although he did not mention Trump by name, Biden’s remarks amounted to an extraordinary rebuke from the president’s leadership following a global pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans and infected millions more, including the president and a wider circle of White House aides. and allies. Deploring the politicization of science and facts, he called for a national strategy.
“Wearing a mask is not a political statement – it is a scientific recommendation,” Biden said, a surgical mask clutched in his fist. “We cannot undo what has been done. We cannot go back. But we can do better. “
His remarks contrasted with Trump, who abruptly ended negotiations with Democrats over further relief as millions of Americans continue to suffer from the financial crisis triggered by the virus.
The move was the last jolt since the president left the hospital on Monday night. Earlier on Tuesday, he announced his intention to participate in the next presidential debate in Miami on October 15, exactly two weeks after testing positive for the virus.
Depending on the severity of Trump’s case, he could still be infectious at that time, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden told reporters he was “looking forward” to debating Trump next week, but clarified that while the president was still contagious, the debate should not take place.
“If he still has Covid, we shouldn’t be having a debate,” Biden told reporters in Hagerstown, Maryland. “I think we were going to have to follow very strict guidelines,” he continued. “Too many people have been infected. This is a very serious problem, so I will be guided by the Cleveland Clinic guidelines and what the literature considers the right thing to do.
Ahead of his speech, which was held outside, the campaign announced that Biden had tested negative for the virus.
Biden has also sought to tackle demands for racial justice and police reform that have continued since George Floyd’s murder in May. He said America’s legacy of racial injustice spanned “400 years, until black men, women and children were first brought here in chains.”
“If you say we don’t need to face racial injustice in this country, you haven’t opened your eyes to the truth in America,” Biden said. “Think about what it takes for a black man to love America. It is a deep love for this country that for too long we have never fully recognized.
But he drew a clear line between support for protesters and cases of violence in some cities, making it clear that he supports “law and order” and opposes “the defounding of the police” – two lines attack that Trump tried to mount against him.
Four weeks before Election Day, the speech one Biden said he worked on “very, very, very hard” sounded like a closing argument.
“As I look across America today, I am concerned,” Biden said. “The country is in a dangerous place. Our mutual trust is diminishing. Hope seems elusive.
But he was optimistic, as always, about the possibility of forging national unity and finding common ground, acknowledging that some might find him naive in an age of hyperpartism and political tribalism.
“The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision, a choice we make, ”he said. “And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can also decide to cooperate.”
Pennsylvania, where Biden was raised, is a critical presidential battleground. Long a Democratic stronghold, Trump won the state in 2016. But a new poll shows Biden has a big lead.
Biden held a 12 point lead over Trump among all registered voters in Pennsylvania, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday – fueled by his strength in suburban Philadelphia and his growing support among people of color.