Americans need only look north of the border to understand how completely the current White House administration messed up its COVID-19 response that’s cost thousands of lives, said former U.S. president Barack Obama during a campaign speech Saturday.
“If we had handled this pandemic like Canada did, 140,000 of our fellow Americans might still be alive today. Think about that,” Obama told voters at a drive-in rally in Michigan in support of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who is running against President Donald Trump in the election Tuesday.
“And yet, despite that, last week when Trump was asked if he would do anything different he said, ‘Not much.’ Really? Not much? Can’t think of anything?”
Obama delivered a scathing review of the Trump administration’s four years in power, and urged Americans to vote for Biden in Tuesday’s election. He accused Trump of initially ignoring and then downplaying the pandemic in which 230,000 Americans have now died of COVID-19 — a mortality rate two-and-a-half times higher than Canada, where more than 10,000 people have died.
“That’s a sign of how much leadership in the White House matters,” Obama said. “Tweeting at the TV doesn’t fix things. Making stuff up doesn’t make people’s lives better.”
Trump has held dozens of rallies, including five on Sunday, since he apparently recovered from COVID-19 in October. In recent days, he’s falsely said that physicians “get more money” if they exaggerate coronavirus deaths, mocked others for wearing masks, and claimed the pandemic was over as the U.S.’s daily case count hit a record high.
University of Stanford economists recently estimated that 18 of Trump’s campaign rallies this summer resulted in at least 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths.
“Look, here’s the truth Michigan,” Obama said on Saturday. “This pandemic would’ve been challenging for any president, but this idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this up is nonsense.”
Watch: Obama slams Trump’s “obsession with crowd size.” Story continues below.
Biden has promised that if he’s elected he will implement a national campaign strategy to support every state with supplies and resources for testing, contract tracing and personal protective equipment, and follow the advice of scientists and physicians from federal health agencies. He’d also push for people to wear masks, social distance and get tested — strategies Canada’s governments have supported since March.
“Canada’s right across the way. Used to be you could go there, remember? Can’t go there right now,” Obama said lightly, referring to the border closure that’s blocked Americans from entering the country except for essential travel in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“Turns out this administration was building a wall to keep us in by bungling this pandemic.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the U.S. election is on Wednesday. The U.S. election is actually on Tuesday.