WILMINGTON, Del. — Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden delivered his first post-debate speech in Delaware on Friday where he urged voters to stay focused on the president’s inability to control the worsening pandemic.
The former vice president used nearly all of his 25-minute address to criticize the current administration’s handling of the pandemic while simultaneously laying out his own plans to clean up after Trump.
"In June, when we began to see the resurgence of COVID-19, I called out President Trump for wavering, & waving the white flag of surrender to the virus,” Biden said Friday. “But then, it was as if he decided to go on offense for the virus, holding rallies with no masks, no social distancing, where people contracted the virus."
Biden slammed Trump's comments when asked during a town hall if there was anything he would do differently about the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"When Trump was asked this week what he'd do differently to get the pandemic response right from the start, his answer was, and I quote, 'not much," Biden said. "'Not much.' As many as 210,000 avoidable deaths, there's not much he would do differnetly? The United States is 4% of the entire world's population, yet we make up 20% of all the deaths worldwide."
He asked, "If this is a success, what does failure look like?"
Biden’s pandemic plan would encourage universal mask wearing, supply a stockpile of personal protective equipment, and make sure that safe and effective treatments and vaccines are available for all Americans.
Biden also stressed that no American should ever be forced to choose between taking a vaccine and putting food on their table, insisting that a potential vaccine be available at no cost.
“Once we have a safe and effective vaccine, it has to be free for everyone. Whether or not you're insured,” Biden said. “Let me say that again, the vaccine must be free and freely available to everyone.”
“I'll listen to the scientists, and I’ll empower them,” Biden added.
It was a similar, if not more detailed, answer to one Biden gave the night before when asked how he would lead the country in the face of the pandemic should he be elected in November. Both times, the candidate declared he is not in favor of a major economic shutdown, instead calling for a restart package for small businesses that would help cover the cost of installing plexi-glass and would make sure all employees have personal protection equipment.
Soon after his address, Biden released a tongue-in-cheek link to “President Trump's plan to beat COVID-19” on Twitter. The link led to a website that read, in part: “The Trump plan to defeat the Coronavirus and reopen safely does not exist.”
Earlier Friday, Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris defended her running mate against accusations that Biden would ban fracking.
“Let’s be really clear about this: Joe Biden is not going to ban fracking,” running mate Kamala Harris told reporters in Georgia on Friday. “He is going to deal with the oil subsidies. You know, the president likes to take everything out of context. But let’s be clear, what Joe was talking about was banning subsidies, but he will not ban fracking in America.”
In the final moments of Thursday’s debate, the former vice president said he supports a “transition” away from oil in the U.S. in favor of renewable energy. The campaign released a statement hours later declaring that he would phase out taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuel companies, not the industry altogether.
Biden did not mention the topic during his own Friday address.
But Republicans were quick to seize on the moment – Trump’s allies immediately began running new attack ads highlighting the Democrats’ inconsistent answers on energy. One ad unveiled Friday calls Biden and Harris “fracking liars.” Another claims Biden’s plans could cost up to 600,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone.
Trump plans to highlight Biden’s comments on oil while speaking to Florida seniors later Friday.
“I showed that Joe Biden is totally controlled by the radical socialist left,” Trump said in his prepared remarks, contending that Biden “admitted that he wants to abolish the oil industry.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.