Biden vows not to make ‘false promises’ about pandemic

28 October 2020, 22:24

Election 2020 Biden
Election 2020 Biden. Picture: PA

President Donald Trump is using the race’s final days to keep up a whirlwind campaign schedule.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has vowed not to campaign “on the false promises of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch”.

The former vice president also argued that a Supreme Court conservative majority stretched to 6-3 by newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett could dismantle the Obama administration’s signature health law and leave millions without insurance coverage during the pandemic.

He called President Donald Trump’s handling of coronavirus an “insult” to its victims, especially as cases rise dramatically around the country — an increase large enough to cause financial markets to sag.

“Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic,” Mr Biden said during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.

“I do promise this: We will start on day one doing the right things.”

Mr Trump, meanwhile, was holding two rallies in Arizona, including one just across the Colorado River from Nevada that he hoped to use to appeal to voters in that state.

A Trump Nevada rally in September attracted thousands and led to the airport that hosted it being fined more than 5,500 dollars for violating pandemic crowd restrictions.

Rather than curb the crowds, Mr Trump is simply shifting his event to nearby Bullhead City, Arizona.

Wednesday’s rally crowd looked to be mostly from Arizona, though there were attendees from Nevada.

US Election
(PA Graphics)

With less than a week until election day, Mr Trump is trailing Mr Biden in most national polls.

Mr Biden also has an advantage, though narrower, in the key swing states that could decide the election.

Mr Biden voted early in Wilmington on Wednesday and also received a virtual briefing from health experts.

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden wave after they voted at the Carvel State Office Building, in Wilmington (Andrew Harnik/AP)

One, Dr David Kessler, director of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, warned, “We are in the midst of the third wave, and I don’t think anyone can tell you how high this is going to get.”

Mr Trump was nonetheless defiant, declaring, “We will vanquish the virus and emerge stronger than ever before.”

In the US, more than 71,000 people a day are testing positive for the virus on average, up from 51,000 two weeks ago.

Cases are rising in all but two states, Hawaii and Delaware, and deaths are climbing in 39, with an average of 805 people dying in the US per day, up from 714 two weeks ago.

Overall, about 227,000 Americans have now been killed by the virus.

The sharp rise sent shockwaves through financial markets, causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 900-plus points.

Mr Trump, who frequently lauds rising markets, failed to mention the decline.

But he promised that economic growth figures for the summer quarter, due on Thursday, would be strong, declaring during the rally in Bullhead City: “This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression.”

As Trump spoke, an Air Force fighter thundered nearby and released a flare to get the attention of a non-responsive private aircraft that was flying in the restricted airspace.

North American Aerospace Defence Command said the plane was escorted out by the F-16 “without further incident”.

Mr Trump was at first caught off guard but later cheered the fighter, proclaiming, “I love that sound” as it roared overhead.

Mr Trump views Nevada, a state that has not backed a Republican for president since 2004, as one option for success.

Hillary Clinton won it by less than 2.5 percentage points in 2016.

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President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Bullhead City, Arizona (John Locher/AP)

The president is also aiming to keep Arizona in his column. The state has not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996, but it is competitive this year.

Democrats are not ceding either Nevada or Arizona in the final days of the campaign.

Mr Biden’s running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, was in Nevada on Tuesday and Arizona on Wednesday.

On Friday, Ms Harris will visit Fort Worth, Houston and the US-Mexico border town of McAllen in Texas a state that has not backed a Democrat for president since 1976 or even elected one to statewide office since 1994.

Ms Harris defended the choice to spend several of the election’s closing days campaigning in traditionally Republican states.

“There are people all over this country who want to know that they are being seen and heard on some of the most challenging times in the history of our country,” she told reporters in Tucson.

Texas was long so reliably red that top national Democrats visited only to hold fundraisers, then spent their hauls in places thought to be more competitive.

“I am really grateful for the attention that they have given Texas because it has been so long since a presidential campaign gave this state a look,” said Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman and onetime presidential hopeful.

But he declined to predict that Mr Biden would win the state, saying only “There is a possibility,” and even that was contingent on turnout statewide continuing to break records.

Mr Biden heads later in the week to three more states Mr Trump won in 2016, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, where he will hold a joint Saturday rally with former President Barack Obama.

Democrats point to a larger number of their party members returning absentee ballots — results that could be decisive since more people are likely to vote by mail during the pandemic.

Mr Trump’s team argues that enough of its supporters will vote on election day to overwhelm any Biden advantage.

Around 71.5 million people nationwide have now voted in advance, either by casting early, in-person ballots or voting by mail, according to an Associated Press analysis. That already represents far more than the advance ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election.

By Press Association