Former United States President Barack Obama on Wednesday questioned his successor Donald Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and ridiculed him for hiding his business dealings with China, and evading taxes, CNN reported.
Obama was speaking at a campaign rally on behalf of Democrat contender Joe Biden in Philadelphia. This was his first in-campaign appearance in support of Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris. The presidential election will be held on November 3.
In one of his most direct attacks against Trump, Obama told the audience in Erie, Pennsylvania, that the president visited the area only because the coronavirus hurt his political fortunes. “We cannot afford four more years of this, Philadelphia,” Obama said, according to PTI. “The idea that this White House has done anything but screw this up is just untrue.”
The former president criticised Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, the issue that is dominating the 2020 campaign. “Tweeting at the television doesn’t fix things,” he said. “Making stuff up doesn’t make things better. You’ve got to have a plan. We literally left this White House a pandemic playbook... They probably used it to prop up a wobbly table somewhere.”
He noted that Trump recently said that there is “not much” he would change about the US response to the pandemic that has killed over 2,20,000 people in the United States. “Really?” Obama asked. “Not much? Nothing you can think of that could have helped some people keep their loved ones alive?”
Obama said that Trump was not going to protect Americans, adding: “He can barely take the basic steps to protect himself. If he’d actually been working the whole time, it never would have gotten this bad.”
‘Secret dealings with China’
The former president then referred to a New York Times report that revealed previously unknown financial holdings in China, at a time when the president is criticising Biden for ties to Beijing.
“We know that he continues to do business with China because he has a secret Chinese bank account,” Obama said. “How is that possible?”
“Can you imagine if I had secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election? according to The New York Times. “They would’ve called me Beijing Barry.” Obama said it was “not a great idea to have a president who owes a bunch of money to people overseas”.
He said the only people who are better off than they were four years ago “are the billionaires who got his tax cuts”, adding that he had probably paid more in taxes working a high school job at an ice-cream parlour than Trump paid during each of his first two years as president – $750 [around Rs 55,282].
A report in The New York Times last month had revealed that Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the presidential election. In his first year of presidency, he again paid only $750 as tax.
‘US deserves a better president’: Kamala Harris
Meanwhile, Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said the US deserves to have a president who understands the dignity of people, PTI reported. In her remarks during a virtual fundraiser, Harris too poured scorn on Trump for his handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout because of it.
“We deserve to have a President and to have a leadership in our country that understands the dignity of who we are and respects the dignity of who we are as a people, and guides our country, in a way that we can regain our standing and get closer to those ideals we hold,” Harris said.
She said that even though 80 lakh people in the United States have contracted the virus, Trump is still denying the realities and the seriousness of Covid-19 and the need to wear a mask. “We are in a public health crisis and an economic crisis that is being compared to the Great Depression,” Harris added.
At a campaign rally in Asheville, North Carolina, Harris urged Americans to vote early. “This moment will pass, and years from now our children, our grandchildren...will ask us: ‘Where were you in that moment?’ We will tell them about what we did to fight for the soul of this nation,” she said.
Trump, she alleged, is incapable of being a president who will protect the well-being and health of the American people and “that is why he’s got to go”.