WARM SPRINGS, UNITED STATES (AFP) – Joe Biden flayed United States (US) President Donald Trump on Tuesday with accusations the President has surrendered to a surging pandemic, as the Democrat took his campaign to the Republican stronghold of Georgia one week before the election.
While the former vice president went on electoral offence, seeking to expand the campaign map and his state-by-state path to victory on November 3, Trump barnstormed the Midwest in a last-gasp bid to shore up states that voted for him in 2016 but which polls show are tilting Biden’s way.
And with the campaign narrowing down to its final days, Biden tapped one of his top surrogates, popular former president Barack Obama, to deliver a closing argument for Democrats in Florida, a must-win swing state for Trump if he is to defy the odds and earn re-election.
Biden, buoyed by poll numbers that show him leading the incumbent, drilled in on Trump’s coronavirus response, reminding voters that Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows conceded at the weekend that “we’re not going to control the pandemic”.
Speaking in Warm Springs, Georgia, Biden branded the response “a capitulation” by a White House that “never really tried” to halt a pandemic which has now killed more than 226,000 Americans.
Instead of acting as a wartime president to battle COVID-19 as he promised, Trump “shrugged, he swaggered and he surrendered,” Biden said.
“I’m here to tell you – We can and we will control this virus,” he added.
Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by five points in Georgia in 2016, but polls have the 74-year-old running neck and neck with Biden in the Peach State. Georgia last voted for a Democrat for president nearly three decades ago – Bill Clinton in 1992 – but the Biden campaign has high hopes of flipping the state, and also winning its two US Senate seats which are up for grabs.
Biden, 77, held a socially distanced drive-in rally later in Atlanta, Georgia’s largest city, where he repeated some of the same attacks on Trump but also urged voters to recognise how vital the state suddenly is to winning the White House.
“We win Georgia, we win everything!” Biden said, his voice rising. “These are the final days, so keep that sense of empowerment with you, that sense of optimism.”