WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Vice President Joe Biden will launch a fresh attack on President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, as the Democratic presidential candidate works to build on his lead in national polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Biden is set to speak at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, in an effort to put what an aide called Trump’s “historic mismanagement” of the crisis in the spotlight as the number of confirmed cases rises in many states.
“Biden will walk through the timeline of Trump’s inaction and failures, and highlight the common-sense actions that Trump refused to take to get the virus under control,” said an aide who previewed his speech and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The former vice president will argue that earlier action would have reduced the number who fell ill and the economic impact of the virus and accuse Trump of “outright ignoring the crisis” as cases rise again, the aide said.
At least 2.6 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the United States and more than 126,000 deaths, more cases and fatalities than any other country, according to a Reuters tally.
Trump and his allies say the toll of the virus could have been larger without travel bans he put in place for visitors from China, and later from Europe.
They have argued the rising number of confirmed cases in recent weeks are largely attributable to increased testing, although the rate of positive tests has also been rising.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The Republican president is trailing Biden in nationwide polls amid the pandemic’s health and economic crises, and nationwide protests against police brutality.
A June 22-23 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 37% of Americans approved of the way Trump has responded to the pandemic, the lowest since the pandemic began.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicut and Simon Lewis; editing by Jonathan Oatis)