Obama: Trump failed to take pandemic, presidency seriously

DETROIT (AP) — Calling Joe Biden his "brother," Barack Obama on Saturday accused Donald Trump
of failing to take the coronavirus pandemic and the presidency seriously as Democrats leaned on
America’s first Black president to energize Black voters in battleground Michigan on the final weekend
of the 2020 campaign.
Obama, the 44th president, and Biden, his vice president who wants to be the 46th, held drive-in rallies
in Flint and Detroit, predominantly Black cities where strong turnout will be essential to swing the
longtime Democratic state to Biden’s column after Trump won it in 2016.
"Three days until the most important election of our lifetime — and that includes mine, which was
pretty important," said Obama, urging Democrats to get to the polls.
The memories of Trump’s win in Michigan and the rest of the Upper Midwest are still searing in the minds
of many Democrats during this closing stretch before Tuesday’s election. That leaves Biden in the
position of holding a consistent lead in the national polls and an advantage in most battlegrounds,
including Michigan, yet still facing anxiety it could all slip away.
As of Saturday morning, nearly 90 million voters had already cast ballots nationwide, according to a
tally by The Associated Press. Tens of millions more will vote by the time polls close on Tuesday night.

The former president hammered on Trump’s continued focus on the size of his campaign crowds.
"Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatized?" Obama mocked.
"The country’s going through a pandemic. That’s not what you’re supposed to be worrying
Trump made an aggressive play for pivotal Pennsylvania, focusing largely on his white, working-class
At an evening rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, Trump announced that he had issued a memorandum that calls
on government agencies to determine fracking’s impact on the economy and trade and the costs of banning
the oil and gas extraction through fracking.
The president has repeatedly charged that Biden will end fracking — a big industry in Pennsylvania and
other states — even as the former vice president has said that he does not support a ban on fracking.
Biden’s more liberal Democratic primary opponents, including his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, have
said they supported imposing restrictions on the industry.
"In other words, if one of these maniacs come along and they say we’re gonna end fracking, we’re
gonna destroy the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Trump said in announcing his memorandum. "You
can say, sorry about that."
Earlier in the day in a small town in Bucks County on the eastern edge of the state, Trump raised
baseless concerns about election fraud, pointing specifically at Philadelphia, a city whose large
African American population is key to Biden’s fate in the state.
"They say you have to be very, very careful — what happens in Philadelphia," Trump charged.
"Everybody has to watch."
The president also railed against a recent Supreme Court ruling that will allow Pennsylvania to count
mail ballots received as many as three days after polls close.
The extra time, Trump alleged without evidence, would allow for fraud and potentially deny him a win in
the state. "What’s going on?" he asked during a late afternoon rally in Reading, Pennsylvania.
"That was a very disappointing opinion, but I’ve had many disappointing opinions from the Supreme
Several studies, including one commissioned by Trump himself, have failed to uncover any significant
examples of election fraud. Good-government advocacy groups are concerned that the president’s repeated
calls for his supporters to monitor the polls may lead to widespread voter intimidation.
Republicans are betting that Trump can win a second term by driving up turnout among his strongest
supporters — white, noncollege-educated men and rural voters — while limiting Biden’s advantage with
Blacks and Latinos. Democrats in several swing states worry that voters of color may not be excited
enough about Biden to show up in the numbers they need.
In Michigan, Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat who represents the Flint area, said he had been pressing for a
couple of months for Biden or Obama to visit the majority Black city where a water crisis that began in
2014 sickened the city’s residents, exposing stark racial inequities.
"Showing up matters," Kildee said. "The message is important, no question about it. But
there’s a message implicit in showing up, especially in Flint. This is a community that has felt left
behind many, many times and overlooked many, many times."
R&B legend Stevie Wonder was to perform at the Biden-Obama rally in Detroit.
Biden’s campaign announced it was sending Obama to Florida and Georgia on Monday. He is the campaign’s
most valuable asset to help energize the nonwhite voters Democrats so badly need to defeat Trump.
"Joe Biden is my brother. I love Joe Biden, and he will be a great president," Obama said
The press for Michigan’s Black voters comes after voting was down roughly 15% in Flint and Detroit four
years ago — a combined 48,000-plus votes in a state Trump carried by about 10,700 votes. Overall, the
Black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to
59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% four years earlier, according to the Pew Research
Trump isn’t ceding Michigan to Biden. He visited Waterford Township, near Detroit, on Friday and held a
rally in the state capital, Lansing, this past week, though the surging coronavirus cases are clouding
his presidency.
The worst week of the year, in terms of new infections, arrived with Election Day looming. More than
99,000 Americans reported new infections on Friday, a record high, according to Johns Hopkins
Trump told Pennsylvania voters that his administration has done "an incredible job" dealing
with the pandemic. He promised that the mass distribution of a vaccine was "just weeks away."
He’s been saying that since August,
Biden has focused almost exclusively on Trump’s inability to control the pandemic. "We’re gonna beat
this virus and get it under control and the first step to doing that is beating Donald Trump,"
Biden said after Obama spoke in Flint.
With the campaign down to the final days, Trump’s closing sprint includes, in addition to the four stops
in Pennsylvania, nearly a dozen events in the final 48 hours across states he carried in 2016.
Biden will close out his campaign on Monday in Pennsylvania, the state where he was born and the one he’s
visited more than any other. The Biden team announced that the candidate, his wife, Jill, running mate
Kamala Harris, and her husband, Doug Emhoff, plan to "fan out across all four corners of the
If Saturday was any indication, the final 72 hours of the 2020 campaign will get nasty.
Speaking in Flint, Michigan, Biden joked of Trump, "When you were in high school, wouldn’t you have
liked to take a shot?"
The Democrat then mocked the president as a "macho man" and called him "weak."
Biden’s reference to "taking a shot" at Trump was reminiscent of remarks Biden made at least
twice before indicating he’d fight the president if both were younger. Trump, too, on Saturday suggested
he could beat up Biden if given the chance and suggested the former vice president wears sunglasses to
cover up "surgery on the eyes."
"Remember when he said he’d like to take me to the back of the barn?" Trump asked.
He then waved his hand, suggesting he could easily topple Biden.
"He’s not a big guy," Trump said of his Democratic opponent. "A slight slap, you wouldn’t
have to close your fist."
Associated Press writers David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed
to this report.
AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: