Joe Biden talked up how his administration would go about distributing a COVID-19 vaccine, as the coronavirus pandemic features ever more significantly in the White House race.
The Democratic presidential nominee also addressed polls that show President Donald Trump has an edge when it comes to economic issues.
“If I’m elected president, I’ll begin by implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Del., following a briefing by public health experts.
“I will provide the leadership necessary to carry out that plan. I’ll level with the American people, I’ll take responsibility, and I’ll support — rather than take down — the experts responsible for the day-to-day execution of the plan. I’ll simply follow the science.”
The former vice president addressed concerns that the Trump administration may try to rush out a vaccine ahead of the Nov. 3 election, saying politics shouldn’t “interfere with the vaccine in any way.”
During a brief question-and-answer period with reporters after his speech, Biden — who served as former President Barack Obama’s No. 2 — pushed back on a question about Trump’s advantage when it comes to the economy.
The Democratic challenger said he has been out of office for four years, and that’s “a long time,” so “it’s a matter of my being able to communicate my position on jobs and trade and what I would do.”
“We actually created more jobs in the last three years of our administration than he created in the first four years of his administration. We actually had more equitable distribution among middle class folks and the like — there were fewer people at risk,” Biden said. He also noted a World Trade Organization ruling on Tuesday against the Trump administration’s tariffs on China, saying the Obama administration “won every single time” with the WTO.
Globally, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is moving closer to 30 million. The U.S. accounts for 6.6 million of those cases, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
Polling shows Biden has the edge over Trump on whom voters trust more to handle the pandemic. In August, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 58% of registered voters disapproved of Trump’s pandemic management.
The pandemic has been thrust anew into the campaign by Trump’s acknowledgment to journalist Bob Woodward that he played down the seriousness of the coronavirus in his public remarks for weeks. Trump responded by saying he was trying to prevent panic.
The federal government, meanwhile, outlined a sweeping plan Wednesday to make vaccines for COVID-19 available for free to all Americans, even as polls show a strong undercurrent of skepticism rippling across the U.S.
In a report to Congress and an accompanying “playbook” for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or possibly later this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot.
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The Associated Press contributed to this story.