Biden, once mocked by Trump, now has the proverbial last laugh

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of AmericaUpdated: Oct 03, 2020, 07:42 AM IST

US President Donald Trump and Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

As Biden remained isolated in his Delaware home in the early months of the virus crisis, Trump called him "Sleepy Joe" and said he was "hiding" in his basement -- a charge that his supporters lapped up and repeated ad infinitum.

In the run up to the November 3 presidential election, US President Donald Trump mocked Democratic challenger Joe Biden for months for his cautious approach to the coronavirus.

As Biden remained isolated in his Delaware home in the early months of the virus crisis, Trump called him "Sleepy Joe" and said he was "hiding" in his basement -- a charge that his supporters lapped up and repeated ad infinitum.

During Tuesday's chaotic presidential debate, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask at his events, even when he is far away from other people.

But on Friday, it was Trump who was forced to remain in his home, quarantining after his positive diagnosis. His doctor said he was "fatigued" but in "good spirits."

Trump's diagnosis is likely to reinforce Biden's message about the president's failed response to the disease, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States, and undermine Trump's argument that the end of the pandemic is in sight. Polls show voters trust Biden to handle the coronavirus more than Trump.

The vice-president and his wife had also taken a coronavirus test -- whose result came out negative.

Biden then had the proverbial last laugh. He had the campaign stage of Michigan to himself a month before Election Day.

He on Friday said that Trump's coronavirus diagnosis showed the importance of taking the pandemic seriously, telling Americans that wearing masks is more important than being a "tough guy."

The remarks served as an implicit criticism of the Republican president. Trump has played down the deadliness of the virus for months, frequently eschews masks and has held huge campaign rallies with little social distancing.

At a union hall in Grand Rapids, Biden said he and his wife, Jill Biden, were praying that Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, had a swift and full recovery. He delivered the entire speech while wearing a blue medical mask, a departure from prior events where he typically took off his mask before speaking.

"This is not a matter of politics," Biden said. "It's a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously. It's not going away automatically."

Biden urged all Americans to follow scientific guidelines, including wearing masks, washing hands frequently and staying 6 feet (1.83 m) apart. Health officials, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, have said masks are a crucial tool for slowing the spread of the virus.

"Be patriotic," Biden said. "It's not about being a tough guy. It`s about doing your part."

Michigan, which Trump narrowly won over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 but where Biden has led in most state polls, is a vital swing state in the election.

Biden leads Trump in national opinion polls, although surveys in the battleground states that will decide the contest show a closer race. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last month showed Biden leading Trump by 5 percentage points among likely voters in Michigan.

With only 32 days to go before Election Day, Trump's campaign team announced Friday that his events would either be virtual or postponed until further notice.

Biden's running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, was to appear in Nevada on Friday. The 50-year-old, who did not attend Tuesday's debate, has so far tested negative.

"This virus is still very much active across our country, please continue to wear a mask and maintain social distancing," she tweeted.

She is set to debate Vice-President Mike Pence on October 7.

The next presidential debate between Trump and Biden is scheduled for October 15, but it was not clear if that would take place.

It is, certainly, too soon to predict how Trump's diagnosis could impact the race for the White House, a tumultuous campaign already upended several times by history-making events.

(with inputs)