An energised Joe Biden and Barack Obama on Saturday accused Donald Trump of a massive screw-up in his handling of the coronavirus, but the US president remained ebullient despite trailing in polls with 10 days to go until the election.
Trump ploughed through three campaign rallies in one day, targeting separate battleground states as he sought to close the gap with Biden.
But the president’s efforts have been inescapably overshadowed by a grim reality – the US set a daily record for new Covid-19 cases for the second day in a row on Saturday, at nearly 89,000, with a further surge expected as cold weather arrives.
The virus has claimed more than 224,000 US lives, with no end in sight, and a majority of voters say Trump has handled the crisis poorly.
“That’s Donald Trump’s presidency,” Biden said on Saturday during a drive-in rally, one of two events in his native Pennsylvania, a critical swing state. He spoke from a stage decorated with bales of hay and Halloween pumpkins.
“Donald Trump said, and is still saying, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away. We’re learning how to live with it.”
Biden added: “We’re not learning how to live with it. You’re asking us to learn how to die with it and it’s wrong.”
The Biden campaign also deployed a key surrogate, former president Barack Obama, who slammed the Trump administration’s Covid-19 response.
“The idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this thing up is nonsense,” Obama told supporters at a drive-in rally in Miami, Florida.
“Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us. He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself,” Obama added, referring to Trump’s hospitalisation for Covid-19 three weeks ago.
Also slamming the president’s failure to denounce white supremacy, and the many times he has lied in public, among other issues, Obama called on supporters to vote for his former vice-president.
He said: “We can make things better . . . That’s what voting is about, not making things perfect, but making things better.
“If we vote up and down the ticket like never before, we will elect Joe Biden.”