If you want to know how important Pennsylvania is to Joe Biden’s presidential bid, just check his calendar. Wednesday’s visit in Darby was the presumptive Democratic nominee’s third stop in the Philadelphia area in as many weeks.
The speech was billed as a plan on reopening, but it was more of a lengthy litigation of how Biden thinks President Donald Trump has mishandled the coronavirus crisis.
“We’ve lost lives; we’ve lost businesses; we’ve lost paychecks,” Biden said. “And now thanks to Donald Trump’s bungling, we may begin to lose some of the progress we’ve begun to make — all because he’s lost interest,” an apparent reference to a new upswing in coronavirus cases in some parts of the country.
“He’s once again ignoring the facts. The public health response is still woefully, woefully lacking from this administration.”
Rather than affirmatively laying out his own point-by-point plan for battling the virus, Biden implied what his administration’s response would look like by delivering a long series of questions aimed at Trump.
“What are you going to do to make sure every worker has access to regular testing, so they have the same confidence to go into a store or go back to work that White House staffers have?”
“Why are you leaving schools and child care centers to navigate the uncertainty all on their own without an effective guidance and resources they need to protect the kids and their communities?”
“Why don’t you enforce the OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standards for worker protection during this global pandemic?”
Biden also accused the Trump administration of not being transparent with relief money being doled out around the country and suggested some of the decisions may be politically based.
It’s an accusation that could be turned on its head locally, as Republicans besieged Gov. Tom Wolf for a list of businesses that received waivers to keep working, while the rest of Pennsylvania was shut down in the early weeks of the crisis. The waiver list was ultimately produced, but generated more controversy as some were quickly retracted just before the list went public.
The transparency issue was not lost on Republicans.
“Biden’s visit today in Delaware County comes too late for businesses his friend Tom Wolf has ordered closed since March,” said Charlie O’Neill PAGOP deputy executive director. “Wolf and Biden have shown they had no plan to manage the COVID-19 crisis, why would we trust them to lead our economic recovery? We also noticed Biden seemed to forget the secretive business waiver process Wolf ran in Pennsylvania, where are his calls for transparency there?”
A closer examination of the Wolf administration’s waiver process is currently underway at Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s office.
Team Trump’s response to Biden’s Keystone State stop was to call out his anti-fracking energy policy, which could be pivotal in his effort to win Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes.
“Joe Biden and his job-killing Green New Deal proposal would destroy millions of American blue-collar jobs, just as Pennsylvanians are seeing a resurgence in energy sector employment for May and June thanks to President Trump,” campaign spokeswoman Melissa Reed told Delaware Valley Journal. “Pennsylvania alone would stand to lose 322,600 oil and gas jobs in addition to Biden’s vow to ban fracking that would kill 609,000 jobs of hard-working Pennsylvanians.”
Biden was in Philadelphia last week for a roundtable discussion, also on the economy and reopening.
And two weeks ago, he delivered a hallmark address from Philadelphia City Hall in which he tried to reframe the presidential contest as a question of leadership.
That speech came just days into the national wave of protests over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and just one day after President Trump controversially posed with a bible at St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House.