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Barack Obama on Trump's handling of coronavirus pandemic: He can't even protect himself

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 21/10/2020 Sean Morrison
a man holding a microphone © Provided by Evening Standard

Barack Obama launched a blistering attack on Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic as he took to the campaign trail less than two weeks before the US election.

At a drive-in rally on behalf of Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the former president said Mr Trump “isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us”.

"He can't even take the basic steps to protect himself,” he told those gathered at the event in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Mr Obama governed for two terms and remains one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party.

a group of people standing in front of a car: People listen as former President Barack Obama speaks at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia (AP) © Provided by Evening Standard People listen as former President Barack Obama speaks at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia (AP)

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

Earlier in the day, Obama spoke to Black community leaders in Philadelphia.

"The pandemic would have been tough for any president," Mr Obama said.

But he asked the group to consider "the degree of incompetence and misinformation, the number of people who might not have died had we just done the basics.”

Obama waves after speaking at the election rally as he campaigns for Joe Biden (AP) © Provided by Evening Standard Obama waves after speaking at the election rally as he campaigns for Joe Biden (AP)

Mr Obama said: ”I've never lost hope over these last four years… I've been mad. I've been frustrated, but I haven't lost hope, and the reason is because I never expected progress to move directly in a straight line."

While Mr Obama was speaking, President Trump headed to North Carolina for a rally in Gastonia on Wednesday evening.

Mr Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, was also in North Carolina to mobilise voters in Asheville and Charlotte.

Americans are voting early at a record pace this year, with 42 million ballots cast both via mail and in person ahead of the November 3 election.

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

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