Biden on Monday zeroed in on the president hours after Trump took to Twitter to fire off a series of campaign-related tweets.
The former vice president spoke during a stop in the battleground state of Florida soon after the president announced that he would return to the White House after being hospitalized for three days at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as he received treatments to combat the coronavirus.
“I was glad to see the president speaking and recording videos over the weekend,” Biden said. “Now that he’s busy tweeting campaign messages, I would ask him to do this: Listen to the scientists.”
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Jose Marti Gym, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Biden urged the president to “support masks. Support mask mandates nationwide. Require masks in every federal building and facility and in interstate travel. Urge every governor in American to do the same. we [sic] know it saves lives.”
Pointing to a move Friday by the U.S. Department of Transportation rejecting a petition to issue a departmentwide mandate requiring all passengers on DOT-approved transportation to wear masks, Biden said “the administration just rejected a mask mandate for public transportation on Friday … I believe that was wrong and not very rational.”
Biden once again stressed that “experts say that universal masking can save, between now and January, 100,000 lives … You know I backed that mandate months ago — he [Trump] should back it now.”
The president avoided wearing a mask in public until July and continues to resist any forceful urging of Americans to wear masks. At last week’s presidential debate, Trump once again mocked Biden for wearing a mask, saying that “I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Biden, speaking at a campaign event in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, the heart of the state’s Cuban-American community, stressed that “since the president entered the hospital, since Friday, more than 100,000 more people have been diagnosed with COVID. I hope the president’s recovery is swift and successful but our nation’s COVID crisis is far, far, from over.”
And he emphasized that many families are still mourning the loss of relatives who died from the virus.
“Today, my prayers are with the families of the 210,000 Americans who died from the virus,” Biden said. “All those families who got up this morning and there was an empty chair at the breakfast table.”
Biden put the focus on how the pandemic and economic collapse has hit Hispanic communities. The national infection rate among Hispanics is almost three times higher than white non-Hispanics, he said.
He also noted that Hispanics classified as essential workers are being left behind by the “most unequal recovery in modern American history” especially compared to the top 100 billionaires in the country.
“Just since the COVID crisis, they have made an additional $300 billion,” he said.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden poses fora. Photo with dancers as he visits Little Haiti Cultural Complex, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
During his first stop Monday in Florida, at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami, Biden pointed to the president’s repeated claims during the past seven months that voting by mail would lead to “massive fraud” and a “rigged election.” And he spoke about how the Trump campaign and the Republican Party have tried to limit moves by some states to make it easier to vote by mail due to health concerns of in-person voting at polling stations amid the coronavirus.
Biden charged that the Trump administration was trying to “put a lid” on people voting.
Biden also said, “Wouldn’t it be an irony — the irony of all ironies — if on election eve it turned out Haitians delivers the coup grâce in this election.”
The Trump campaign quickly fired back: “With President Trump at Walter Reed Medical Center, Joe Biden tells a crowd to fantasize about President Trump being delivered a ‘coup de grâce,’ or death blow.”
Biden was scheduled to conclude his campaign swing in Florida by headlining an NBC News town hall in primetime on Monday night.
Monday is the last day for Floridians to register to vote in time for the November election. Biden urged the audience that to go register to vote “right now” if they hadn’t already.
Biden was introduced at his Little Havana event by the daughter of Venezuelan immigrants who said she would cast her first-ever vote as a U.S. citizen for Biden.
The stop was Biden’s second in Florida in the past three weeks. The state — the largest of the traditional battlegrounds — was narrowly captured by President Obama in his 2008 and 2012 election victories.
Four years ago, Trump narrowly carried the state over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, winning Florida’s prized 29 electoral votes and capturing the White House. An average of the most recent polls in the state compiled by Real Clear Politics indicates Biden with a slight 2-point edge over the president.