Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump of endangering people who attend his rallies while limiting his own exposure, portraying the former real estate developer as a callous leader who ignores the interests of the average person.
Highlighting recent claims from a former White House pandemic adviser who alleged that Trump disparaged his followers, Biden accused the president of not caring about the working-class voters who form the foundation of his support.
“The truth is he never really respected us very much,” the former vice president said during a visit to Mantiwoc, Wisconsin, a key swing state.
“Oh, he loves his rallies. And the next time he holds one, look closely. Trump keeps his distance from anyone at a rally. The folks who come, are packed as tightly as they can be, risking disease mostly without masks. But not Trump. He safely keeps his distance,” he said. “For Trump, these rallies are about entertainment (and) adoration. They’re not about respect. Don’t kid yourself. This is a one-way street.”
In his speech where he marked the U.S. coronavirus death total rising above 200,000, Biden cited the claims of Olivia Troye. She served as an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the pandemic response effort in the White House.
Last week, Troye alleged that she once heard Trump disparage attendees at his rallies during a task force meeting: “Maybe this COVID thing is a good thing,” she recalled him saying. “I don’t like shaking hands with people. I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people.” Her comments have been used by Trump’s foes in a new political ad.
Trump has said he doesn’t know who Troye is. And Pence has described her as “a disgruntled employee.”
Biden’s speech Monday at an aluminum foundry builds on the comparison the former vice president has been crafting on the campaign trail: that he – a kid from blue-collar Scranton, Pennsylvania – has a lot more in common with regular folks than the president, a real estate mogul who grew up in New York City.
“He sees the world from Park Avenue,” Biden said. “I see it from where I grew up in a town like this, from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Hardscrabble, hard-working town just like this and so many across Wisconsin. When I look at the world form Park Avenue, basically all you can see is Wall Street.”
Mantiwoc is a key county in a state considered crucial to the presidential election.
Trump, who narrowly captured the state in 2016 over Hillary Clinton, won the county by 22 points (58-36%). In 2012, Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by only three points: 51%-48%.
Unlike Trump’s rallies that feature hundreds of supporters, Biden wore a mask as he addressed about 30 people at the factory, with reporters seated in chairs placed inside white circles.
Trump has mocked the former vice president’s adherence to wearing a mask, which his administration’s health experts recommend to help prevent the spread of the virus. In June, the president derided a Biden appearance before only reporters by tweeting “Joe Biden’s rally. ZERO enthusiasm!”
During his roughly 25-minute speech, Biden did not mention the ongoing battle in Washington over whether to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died Friday of pancreatic cancer at 87.
Trump spent much of Monday discussing his desire to fill the seat as quickly as possible and said he would announce his nominee by Saturday. Biden has previously echoed Democrats’ arguments that the president should wait for the results of the Nov. 3 election.
Monday was Biden’s second visit to Wisconsin.
Earlier this month, the former vice president and his wife, Jill, spoke to Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot in the back seven times by a white police officer in Kenosha on Aug. 23.