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Obama slams Trump’s handling of coronavirus crisis

PHILADELPHIA: Former United States President Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail with a blistering attack on Donald Trump with less than two weeks to go before the face-off with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Speaking at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia on behalf of Biden, his former vice president, and Democratic running mate Kamala Harris, Obama offered his fiercest critique yet of his successor. He took aim at Trump’s divisive rhetoric, his track record in the Oval Office and his habit of re-tweeting conspiracy theories.

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

Obama, who governed for two terms and remains one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, lashed at Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the president himself had fallen victim to the virus.

“Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us,” he said. “He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”

“This is not a reality show. This is reality,” Obama said in a nod to Trump’s past as a reality TV host. “And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”

Obama’s appearance filled a gap left by Biden, who has stayed at home in Delaware for meetings and preparation ahead of his Thursday debate with Trump in Nashville, Tennessee.

The drive-in rally was held in the parking lot of Citizens Bank Park, the baseball stadium in Philadelphia, the city’s skyline visible in the distance. With nearly 280 vehicles spread throughout the lot, it was the largest event of its kind that the Biden campaign has staged during the pandemic.

Obama warned Democrats against complacency. “We’ve got to turn out like never before,” he said. “We cannot leave any doubt in this election.”

Four years ago, Obama participated in a rally in Philadelphia with then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the day before the election, only to see Trump narrowly take the state. The Biden campaign considers winning there a top priority.

Obama’s support has been essential for Biden. He has appeared at joint fundraisers with Biden and Harris, and his network of well-connected former aides has been instrumental in helping the campaign outpace Trump in receiving donations.

Biden’s team said Obama would campaign in Miami on Saturday for the Democrats. Biden and Trump are scheduled to meet in their second and final debate on Thursday night, giving the Republican an opportunity to change the trajectory of a race that Biden is leading in national opinion polls.