WASHINGTON, Aug 28, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Joe Biden said Thursday he will soon
campaign in person in battleground states that could decide the US
presidential election, a change of course for the Democrat who has largely
hunkered down during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new events, expected to begin next month, would be the first
substantial campaign stops for Biden since March when he, Democratic
nomination rival Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump abruptly suspended
in-person campaigning due to the health crisis.
“I’m going to be going up into Wisconsin, and Minnesota, spending time in
Pennsylvania, out in Arizona, but we’re going to do it in a way that is
totally consistent with being responsible,” the 77-year-old former vice
president told reporters.
Biden, speaking during a virtual fundraising event, said he would get out
and meet people in communities and local businesses, but not at
“irresponsible rallies,” a likely reference to the large campaign gatherings
that Trump has hosted in recent months in defiance of the Covid-19 threat.
“I’m a tactile politician. I really miss being able to, you know, grab
hands, shake hands,” said Biden, who is known for his blue-collar roots and
thrives on personally connecting with voters on the campaign trail.
“You can’t do that now. But I can in fact appear beyond virtually, in
person, in many of these places.”
Biden made clear he would adhere to local guidelines and arrange to host
events “without jeopardizing or violating state rules about how many people
can in fact assemble.”
He said the first excursion into swing states — where polls show Biden
holding slight leads over Trump — would occur “after Labor Day,” which is
observed on September 7.
Biden noted how his presidential rival was delivering a tradition-busting
speech Thursday night — essentially a large political rally — on the South
Lawn of the White House as he accepts his party’s renomination at the
conclusion of the Republican Convention.
An estimated 1,500 guests have been invited.
Trump is “virtually throwing every major rule in the dustbin,” Biden said,
referring to US government norms separating official business from politics.
“He’s totally irresponsible.”
The Democratic convention was held last week, almost entirely online. The
party had intended to gather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for its political
jamboree but the pandemic upended those plans.
Even after the in-person convention was largely scrapped, Biden had planned
to deliver his address from Milwaukee, a sign of commitment to win back the
state of Wisconsin which had flipped to Trump in 2016.
But Biden reversed that call and delivered his speech from a near-empty
hall close to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, drawing scorn from Trump and