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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Obama skewers Trump as former president hits campaign trail


Former President Barack Obama unloaded on his successor Wednesday in Philadelphia as Democrats’ biggest luminary hit the campaign trail in support of his vice president.

Obama lambasted Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans and infected nearly 8.4 million — including the president, members of his family and many of his top aides.

“Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us,” Obama said at a drive-in rally in the city’s stadium district. “He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”

The Democrat acknowledged that the deadly virus’ threat “would have been challenging for any president,” but said that Trump has been uniquely unfit for the moment.

“This idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this up is just not true.”

He also said that his administration left a “pandemic playbook,” drafted after the Ebola outbreak, that was largely ignored by his successor.

“They probably used it to — I don't know — prop up a wobbly table somewhere,” Obama said.

Obama contrasted his criticisms by praising the current Democratic torchbearers, Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, as steady hands to shepherd the country through Covid-19 and its aftermath.

“They actually care about every American, including the ones that don't agree with them.” Obama said. “And they're going to fight for you every day. They care about you and they care about this democracy.”

The two-term president’s speech seemed tailor-made to provoke a response from Trump, who promoted the conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the United States and has delighted in demolishing his predecessor’s legacy during his time in the White House.

“He hasn't shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends, or treating the presidency like a reality show he can use to get attention,” Obama said. “And by the way, even then his TV ratings are down. So you know that upsets him.”

He also expressed exasperation with Trump’s flirtation with wild conspiracy theories — including one alleging that Osama Bin Laden was not killed by U.S. Navy SEALs during Obama‘s presidency — and incendiary rhetoric.

“And with Joe and Kamala at the helm you're not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day, and that's worth a lot.” Obama said. “It just won't be so exhausting.

Obama also sought to reclaim credit for the economy that prior to the virus’ arrival Trump and his allies frequently touted and use it as a cudgel against the current president.

“Now, he did inherit the longest streak of job growth in American history,” Obama said. “But just like everything else he inherited, he messed it up.”

He also remarked upon a recent New York Times report detailing a bank account Trump holds in China, as part of its long-running investigation into the president’s finances.

“Can you imagine if I had had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election?” Obama said, joking that conservative media would have “called me Beijing Barry.”

Obama also peppered his remarks with calls to action, urging people to vote and to have faith in the democratic process, flawed as it may be.

“The fact we don't get 100 percent of what we want right away is not a good reason not to vote,” he said.

The Biden camp strategically deployed Obama to Philadelphia in a bid to drum up Democratic enthusiasm in a state both campaigns are targeting as a must-win. Biden leads Trump by 4.9 percentage points in Pennsylvania, according to Real Clear Politics' polling average.

Obama's evening speech came after he attended more-intimate events speaking to Black male civic leaders and stopping by a Philadelphia campaign center to talk to volunteers earlier in the day.

“The easiest thing to do is say, well, I quit," Obama said at the first of the two. "But we can’t afford to quit.”



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