As coronavirus cases hit daily record, Donald Trump tries to reframe race about oil

At a rally in North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, Trump pointed out Biden’s position on fracking being the primary responsibility in the election. However, he continued to downplay the virus, falsely claiming that the increase in coronavirus cases was due to increased testing, pointing out that the country’s death rate has declined due to improved treatments and management of Covid-19 patients .

“We have been in this crisis for more than eight months and the president still has no plan. He gave up. He renounced you. He resigned from your family. He resigned from America,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday. “He just wants us to go numb and surrender to the horror of this death toll and the pain so many Americans cause.”

Disapproval of Trump’s handling of the pandemic has weighed heavily on the president’s polls as he continues to ignore the current surge in cases in at least 30 states this week. In Florida, he again insisted on Friday that the nation is “going around the corner” and that life will soon be back to normal, statements that are totally inconsistent with the facts.

Trump’s attacks on Biden’s stance on energy and the climate crisis come at a time when the two men are battling for the 20 Pennsylvania vote that Trump won in 2016. The Commonwealth, Where Biden spends the day on Saturday could serve as the linchpin of who wins the 2020 election.

Trump beat up Biden for changing his position on fracking, which is central to the Commonwealth’s economy. Biden made confusing statements about fracking over the course of the 2020 campaign, but he has not proposed a complete ban on fracking as Trump claims.

Biden responded to Trump during his Saturday event in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, “Let me be clear too: I don’t ban fracking in Pennsylvania or anywhere else. I can protect jobs in Pennsylvania, period. No matter how often Donald Trump lies.”

Still, several Democrats in states closely related to the energy industry – including two of the House Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbents, New Mexico MPs Xochitl Torres Small and Oklahoma MPs Kendra Horn – distanced themselves from Biden’s remarks during Thursday’s debate take the opportunity to highlight an area of ​​disagreement with the top of the ticket.Check out Trump and Biden’s head-to-head polls

During his two rallies in Florida on Friday, Trump highlighted Biden’s claim during Thursday night’s debate that he would “move away from the oil industry, yes” to help tackle the climate crisis by increasingly relying on renewable energy.

After the debate pressured by reporters, Biden clarified that he was referring to ending state subsidies for oil. “At some point we have to switch to oil, but we are not getting rid of fossil fuels,” said Biden. “We’re getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies, but we haven’t been getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time,” he said, adding that “it won’t be gone” until “probably 2050.”

But Trump eliminated every nuance in Biden’s position when he was in Florida on Friday, telling a crowd of seniors in the sprawling community of The Villages that Biden “wants to get rid of the oil industry.”

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Trump extended Biden’s comments to the realm of the ridiculous, also claiming in The Villages that Biden’s transition to greater reliance on renewable energy would mean America’s seniors “have no air conditioning in summer, no heat in winter, and no electricity at peak times “. “He also falsely claimed that Biden’s plans included” getting rid of planes “.

Trump has made deregulation of the environment a trademark of his presidency. Earlier in the day, the Department of Energy passed a rule introducing a new class of dishwashers that critics say could bypass important environmental regulations.

The president’s energy fear tactic was part of his broader argument on Friday that the choice is a choice between a “Trump Super Recovery” or a Biden “Depression”.

The Trump campaign quickly linked Biden’s comments on oil debates with changes in his stance on fracking in a new ad airing in Pennsylvania. The latter falsely claims that the former vice president will “end fracking” and is willing to sacrifice worker jobs if you do.

Trump campaign officials announced Friday that they had raised $ 26 million for the campaign and its affiliated GOP committees as a result of the debate. They said this would be reelection’s biggest digital donation day. But Biden and Equal Democratic Committees had a cash advantage of more than $ 107 million in recent fundraisers in the final weeks of the campaign. Biden had a lead in Pennsylvania – 53% to 43% among the likely voters – but none of the candidates led to Florida, according to CNN polls released this week. After an early personal vote in the Sunshine State on Saturday, Trump tried again to cast doubt on the mail-in vote, saying his chosen method was “much safer” – an assessment that experts disagreed with.

Obama meets Trump’s leadership

But when Trump targeted Biden on energy policy, former President Barack Obama returned to the campaign as Biden’s top deputy on Saturday. He again condemned the president’s leadership style and ridiculed him for complaining about his press coverage.

The former president mocked Trump for leaving an interview with Lesley Stahl from “60 Minutes”.

“He likes to act hard and talk hard,” Obama said on Saturday afternoon in Miami. The car horns honked as substitute applause from the drive-in crowd. “He finds it difficult to be sinister and mean, and being rude is tough. But if ’60 Minutes ‘and Lesley Stahl are too tough for you, you’re not that tough. When you have to get out of a’ 60 minute interview then you will never face a dictator. “

“If you spend all of your time complaining about how mean reporters are to you, you will not stand up to Putin (Russian President Vladimir),” he added.

Obama also argued that America shouldn’t have a president “who threatens people with imprisonment for criticizing him”.

“This is not normal behavior, Florida,” Obama said. “You wouldn’t tolerate it from a colleague. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a principal. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a coach. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a family member. ‘Florida Man’ wouldn’t tolerate it.” I don’t even do that stuff, “he said, laughing and honking from the crowd in Miami.” Why do we accept it from the President of the United States? “

Obama said Trump’s behavior “encourages others to be mean, cruel, divisive and racist.”

Different attitudes towards the virus

While Biden has outlined more detailed plans to fight the pandemic, Trump continues to host large rallies – with little mask wear and social distancing – and largely ignores recent warnings from the country’s top health experts that the country is in a darkening phase.

US surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams warned that this week is likely to “mark our highest number of cases that we have ever had daily in the United States”. Speaking at the Meridian Global Leadership Summit, he said hospital stays, which generally lag behind cases, are increasing in 75% of jurisdictions across the country. This trend has often been followed by an increase in deaths.

Build your own path to 270 votes with CNN’s interactive map

“Last night we saw the President of the United States lied to the American people and repeatedly lied about the state of this pandemic,” Biden said in Wilmington on Friday about the debate last night. On Saturday in Pennsylvania, Biden again sharply criticized the president’s handling of the pandemic.

“More than 220,000 Americans dead from Covid-19,” Biden said in Bucks County, pointing to the incongruity between posting the highest number of new cases in one day and Trump saying the country was “around the corner”. “”

In Lumberton, North Carolina, Trump boasted of his own immunity on Saturday after contracting coronavirus, questioning doctors’ claims that he may only be immune for four months, and claiming he could get through the crowd of Go North Carolina and kiss everyone if he wanted to.

He mocked social distancing at Biden’s events, claiming that the cars were too close together at the former Vice President’s drive-in event earlier in Bucks County, suggesting that the media’s dark tone was about the rising number of coronavirus cases should harm him politically. He once said that Americans would not hear about the virus after election day.

During an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday night, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, said the country is currently holding its own fate in its own hands and suggested that it might be time for a mask mandate. READ: This Michigan city is gathering as America is more divided than ever

Fauci stressed that taking control of the virus does not mean forcing another economic shutdown, but rather doing basic things that can slow the spread of the virus, including wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, social distancing, and avoiding the crowds.

“They sound very simple, but we don’t do it consistently and that’s one of the reasons we see these waves,” said Fauci on “Erin Burnett Out Front.”

“That’s why, as much as I can, I am essentially begging the American public to please take these things seriously,” Fauci added. “We can turn it around.”

This story was updated with additional developments on Saturday.