Biden says 'no magic switch' but halting coronavirus will be first priority

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a briefing on Covid-19 in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a briefing on Covid-19 in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WILMINGTON • Mr Joe Biden has insisted that he will tackle the coronavirus pandemic from Day 1 if he is elected US president, but warned that there is no magic "switch" that ends it.

The Democrat cast his presidential ballot in his home state of Delaware and met health experts on Wednesday as he fine-tuned his pandemic response plan, seeking to reassure voters that he would use science to fight the contagion.

"Even if I win it's going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic," the former vice-president said in Wilmington.

"I'm not running on a false promise of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch. But what I can promise you is this: We'll start on Day 1 by doing the right thing. We'll let science guide our decisions."

The pandemic has upended all aspects of American life and overshadowed the election, with opinion polls showing that it may well be President Donald Trump's undoing as cases of infections hit record levels in the United States.

Despite many Americans fearing the risk of voting in crowded polling stations, a remarkable 74.7 million people have already cast their ballots.

Mr Biden's team announced yesterday that ex-president Barack Obama will join his former right-hand man on the campaign trail in key state Michigan.

It will be their first joint in-person appearance of the 2020 race, and Mr Obama will no doubt repeat his searing attacks on Mr Trump's handling of the pandemic.

Some 57.4 per cent of Americans disapprove of Mr Trump's coronavirus response, while 39.8 per cent approve, according to a poll average compiled by tracker FiveThirtyEight.com.

In contrast, a RealClearPolitics average shows 50 per cent approve of Mr Trump's handling of the economy while 47.8 per cent do not.

As polls repeatedly show Mr Biden leading in the final week, the 77-year-old has gone on the offensive as he seeks to expand his state-by-state path to victory.

On Tuesday, Mr Biden visited Georgia, traditionally Republican territory, and he will also travel to Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan in the closing days of the race. All are states that Mr Trump won in 2016 but which are up for grabs this year.

On his campaign trail, Mr Biden blasted President Trump, calling his administration's response to the pandemic "an insult to every single person suffering from Covid-19 and every family who's lost a loved one".

Yesterday, both Mr Trump and Mr Biden were scheduled to rally supporters in the battleground state of Florida, visiting the same city hours apart and putting on full display once more their contrasting approaches to the resurgent pandemic.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2020, with the headline 'Biden says 'no magic switch' but halting virus will be first priority'. Subscribe