The coronavirus outbreak looks set to become one of the defining issues of November’s presidential election and Mr Biden has stepped up his attacks on the US president’s handling of the pandemic. In a tweet timed to coincide with the start of Mr Trump’s Monday press briefing at the White House, the former Delaware senator wrote: “The office of the presidency comes with the ultimate responsibility for the biggest decisions in the world. Every great president throughout our history has met that duty with the leadership it demands. Donald Trump has not.”
This latest attack follows attempts by the president’s campaign team to portray Mr Biden as being soft on China, an area that also looks set to dominate the political debate in the lead up to November.
Last Thursday, a pro-Trump political action committee, America First Action, launched a $10 million series of new attack ads against the Democratic challenger in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The ads portrayed Mr Biden as being friendly to China’s ruling Communist Party, while highlighting the US president’s decision in January to ban travel from the country after the start of the COVID-19 crisis in Wuhan.
Mr Biden’s supporters have welcomed the fight and argue that Mr Trump undermined US disease control protections, allowing the rapid spread of the killer virus, that has gone on to kill over 40,000 Americans.
The Democratic challenger said on Friday that US citizens were paying the price for the President’s failure to hold China to account over the pandemic.
In a video posted online, he said: “The uncomfortable truth is that Donald Trump left America exposed and vulnerable to this pandemic.
“He ignored the warnings of health experts and intelligence agencies and put his trust in China’s leaders instead.”
He pointed out that Donald Trump ended funding for a programme to track emergency infectious diseases created under the Obama-Biden administration, as well as cutting the Center of Disease Control and Prevention experts in China by two-thirds.
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He added: “And now, we’re all paying the price.”
The US President was initially effusive in his praise of China’s President Xi Jinping and his efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
On January 24, Mr Trump tweeted: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus.
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“The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well.
“In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”
In February, the President again took to twitter to commend the actions of his Chinese counterpart, writing: “Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China.
“He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus.
“Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation.
“We are working closely with China to help!”
This comes as a Gallup poll last Thursday showed the president’s approval ratings dropping six points from mid-March to 43 percent, the steepest fall since he took office.
The survey found that only 30 percent of Americans were satisfied with the way things are going, a 12-point drop since early March.
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