Barack Obama enters the field, blasts Donald Trump in first US election rally for Joe Biden

WION Web Team New Delhi Oct 22, 2020, 08.15 AM(IST) Oct 22, 2020, 08.44 AM(IST)

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as he campaigns on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee and his former Vice President Joe Biden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 21, 2020 Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

On Wednesday it was the time for Democratic Party to finally bring their ace general to the field. Former US President Barack Obama blasted Donald Trump as he took to stage for his former colleague and now Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden

The big guns are out! We are less than two weeks ahead of US Presidential Elections 2020 and the race is heating up. Big political stars from both sides are coming out. On Wednesday it was the time for Democratic Party to finally bring their ace general to the field. Former US President Barack Obama blasted Donald Trump as he took to stage for his former colleague and now Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden.

"This is not a reality show. This is reality," Obama said in a nod to Trump's past as a reality TV host. "And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”

Obama was speaking at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump are not just two political figures at the opposite ends of US political spectrum. They have not been observed to share good vibes when they were around each other. It has even been evident in their body language. The photograph of the frosty handshake between the two when Trump called on President Obama after getting elected has been stuff of legends.

"With Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day," Obama said at Philadelphia rally. 

Barack Obama at Philadelphia rally

"And that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting,” he added.

Obama, who governed for two terms and remains one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, blasted Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the president himself had fallen victim to the virus.

"Donald Trump isn't suddenly going to protect all of us," he said. "He can't even take the basic steps to protect himself."

"This is not a reality show. This is reality," Obama said in a nod to Trump's past as a reality TV host. "And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”

Obama's appearance filled a gap left by Biden, who has stayed at home in Delaware since Monday for meetings and preparation ahead of his Thursday debate with Trump in Nashville, Tennessee.

Barack Obama at Philadelphia rally

The drive-in rally was held in the parking lot of Citizens Bank Park, the baseball stadium in Philadelphia, the city's skyline visible in the distance. With nearly 280 vehicles spread throughout the lot, it was the largest event of its kind that the Biden campaign has staged during the pandemic.

Edge

With a Reuters/Ipsos poll showing Biden with just a 4-percentage-point edge in Pennsylvania, Obama warned Democrats against complacency.

"We've got to turn out like never before," he said. "We cannot leave any doubt in this election."

Americans are voting early at a record pace this year, with more than 42 million ballots cast both via mail and in person ahead of Nov. 3 Election Day on concerns about the coronavirus and to make sure their votes are counted.

Barack Obama at Philadelphia rally

The early vote so far represents about 30% of the total ballots cast in 2016, according to the University of Florida's U.S. Elections Project.

Four years ago, Obama participated in a rally in Philadelphia with then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the day before the election, only to see Trump narrowly take the state. The Biden campaign considers winning there a top priority.

In remarks at an evening rally in Gastonia, North Carolina, Trump briefly mentioned Obama, noting that he had supported Clinton in her losing effort. "It was nobody who campaigned harder for Crooked Hillary than Obama, right?"

North Carolina is another battleground state where opinion polls show a tight race. Harris was also in the state on Wednesday to mobilize voters in Asheville and Charlotte.

US election 2020: Can Barack Obama be elected as Joe Biden's Vice President?

Obama won North Carolina in 2008, but lost it in his 2012 campaign. Trump won it in 2016.

Trump argued that coronavirus-related restrictions were harming the state's economy and complained that Democrats and the news media were overly pre-occupied with the pandemic.

"All you hear is covid, covid," the president said. "That's all they put on because they want to scare the hell out of everyone."

Top ally

Even though Wednesday marked Obama's 2020 campaign debut, his support has been essential for Biden. He has appeared at joint fundraisers with Biden and Harris, and his network of well-connected former aides has been instrumental in helping the campaign outpace Trump in bringing in donations.

Biden's team said Obama would campaign in Miami on Saturday for the Democratic ticket.

The last days of campaigning are taking place during a surge in cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations in battleground states, including North Carolina and Pennsylvania but also Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

 

Pennsylvania has averaged 1,500 new cases a day over the past week, a level it has not seen since April, according to a Reuters analysis. North Carolina is averaging 2,000 new cases a day over the past week, its highest level yet. The virus has killed more than 221,000 people in the United States.

Polling shows a majority of voters are disappointed in the way Trump has handled the pandemic, which he has repeatedly said would disappear on its own.

Biden and Trump are scheduled to meet in their second and final debate on Thursday night, giving the Republican an opportunity to change the trajectory of a race that Biden is leading in national opinion polls.

(With Reuters input)

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