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Former president Barack Obama delivered a lacerating critique of President Trump in his debut on the 2020 campaign trail Wednesday, denouncing his successor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and ridiculing him for being unable to even “protect himself” from covid-19.
Speaking at a drive-in rally for Joe Biden in South Philadelphia, Obama attacked Trump on a wide range of issues — including his personal tax payments, embrace of conspiracy theories, handling of the economy and efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act — as he implored Democrats to avoid complacency and turn out at the polls.
With less than two weeks left before Election Day, Obama’s appearance in a state Trump won in 2016 highlighted the importance of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, which both campaigns have viewed as a must-win on a path to the White House. A day earlier, Trump delivered remarks at a rally in Erie, Pa., in one of three western counties that had voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but backed Trump four years ago.
“I get this president wants full credit for the economy he inherited and zero blame for the pandemic he ignored,” Obama said, citing the more than 220,000 Americans who have died of the novel coronavirus. “But you know what? The job doesn’t work that way. Tweeting at the television doesn’t fix things. Making stuff up doesn’t make people’s lives better. You’ve got to have a plan.”
The format of the event, in which supporters remained in their vehicles to maintain social distancing, offered a stark reminder of the nation’s health crisis. As Obama spoke, supporters could be heard cheering but also honking their horns in support.
The scene was a contrast to Trump’s rallies, in which thousands of supporters huddle closely on airport tarmacs for the president’s remarks. Many have eschewed masks, as Trump has denounced Democratic governors and mayors for maintaining pandemic restrictions on businesses.