Obama to hit campaign trail in final sprint of election, Biden says

Joan E Greve in Washington
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic challenger Joe Biden indicated that his Barack Obama would soon be hitting the campaign trail in person to stump for his former running mate, with three weeks to go until the presidential election.

“He’s doing enough for our campaign. He’ll be out on the trail,” Biden said on Tuesday before leaving for a campaign stop in Florida.

Obama has participated in virtual fundraisers for Biden, his former vice-president, and the two filmed a “socially distanced conversation” in July, which focused on criticizing Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Obama is seen by many as a brilliant campaigner, able to stir Democratic enthusiasm and get voters to the polls. He’s also appeared in online fundraising with vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Reports appeared to confirm the move that Obama would soon be stepping out. “President Obama plans to hit the trail soon, in addition to all the other activities he’s undertaken all year in support of electing VP Biden – as he’s said, we all have to do everything we can to win on November 3,” an aide to the former president told ABC News.

Any appearance by Obama on the stump in the final sprint of the election would also be in marked contrast to the attitude of the most recent former Republican president – George W Bush – who has not even expressed support for Trump, let alone joined him on his re-election bid.

Meanwhile, Biden kept up his withering assault on Trump’s record in office by hitting yet another key swing state. In Pembroke Pines, Florida, Biden focused a speech on criticizing the president’s response to Covid-19, which is still out of control in the US, with cases rising in many states.

The Democratic nominee told senior voters that Trump had treated America’s older citizens like they were expendable, for his own ends. To Trump, “you’re expendable, you’re forgettable, you’re virtually nobody,” Biden said at a senior center in Pembroke Pines, about 20 miles from Fort Lauderdale.

The “only senior Donald Trump seems to care about” is himself, Biden added.

“I prayed for his recovery when he got Covid. And I hoped he’d at least come out of it somewhat chastened,” Biden said of the president. “But what has he done? He’s just doubled down on the misinformation he did before and [is] making it worse.”

Biden’s courting of seniors was a sign of his bet that a voting bloc that buoyed Trump four years ago has become disenchanted with the White House’s handling of the pandemic, in particular. It was Biden’s third visit to the state in a month, after making targeted appeals to other voting communities, including military veterans and Latinos.

Florida is an essential state for both candidates to win, but especially Trump, whose narrow triumph there in 2016 fueled his shock victory over Hillary Clinton.

Later, Biden was speaking at a voter mobilization rally in the heavily African American Florida community of Miramar. His swing through the state coincided with a $500,000 donation from billionaire former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg to increase Democratic turnout in Miami-Dade county.

It also corresponded with more encouraging polling for the Democrat who seems to have surged in recent weeks. In most national polls he has a double digit lead over Trump and is also comfortably ahead in most swing state polls. But a new poll on Tuesday evening showed Biden’s lead surging to 17 points, according to an Opinium Research and Guardian opinion poll.

About 57% of likely voters surveyed said they intended to vote for Biden, while just 40% said they favor Trump.