Biden’s Stark Closing Message in Milwaukee Shows a Recognition of Reality That Escapes Trump



By Jonathon Sadowski

October 30, 2020

Trump, who also held a campaign event in Wisconsin on Friday, plans to return to speak Monday night in Kenosha.

About four hours after President Donald Trump wrapped up his third crowded Wisconsin rally of the week, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden stood behind a podium at a hangar in Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee for a limited, socially distanced speech in which he covered many familiar beats in his closing arguments of the 2020 campaign.

Just four days until the presidential election, Biden’s Friday night speech could very well be his last campaign appearance in Wisconsin, as various polls put him ahead of Trump. Meanwhile, the president, whose poll numbers indicate he will lose the election, has been playing catchup in Wisconsin as he and his campaign combined for five separate appearances since Saturday. Trump also on Friday announced plans to make one of his final campaign speeches Monday night in Kenosha just 12 hours before polls open.

The bulkiest portion of Biden’s remarks centered on Trump’s failed response to the coronavirus pandemic that has left 8.9 million Americans infected and 228,000 dead, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden referenced the ever-growing numbers in Wisconsin: 220,000 infections and 1,972 deaths as of Friday, according to Department of Health Services data.

“Thing that bothers me the most is the president gave up,” Biden said, cutting into Trump for his August statement that the virus “is what it is” and Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ shocking admittance last weekend that the White House is “not going to control the pandemic.” 

The former vice president also took shots against Trump for the state of dairy farming in Wisconsin. Trump’s trade war with China caused serious harm to the state’s dairy industry; over 800 Wisconsin dairies closed in 2019 alone—a rate of more than two per day. It has gotten worse during the pandemic, with many farms missing out entirely on COVID relief funds.

Biden vowed to pass a bipartisan relief package for all sorts of people affected by the pandemic. He bashed Trump for his failure to get a single relief bill passed in Congress since the CARES Act in March.

“I know how to do this,” Biden said.

The crowd at Mitchell International was sparse, limited to about 50 people spaced out in a hangar, all wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. High-profile guests included Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas and US Rep. Gwen Moore. Others included educators, students, a local entrepreneur, and a nurse.

A couple hours north, the scene was entirely different as Trump delivered remarks in Green Bay, home to one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country currently. (His speech there was previously scheduled for earlier in October, but it was canceled after he was diagnosed with coronavirus and soon thereafter hospitalized with a severe case.) 

Thousands of people, many without masks, packed into grandstands at Austin Straubel International Airport for the president’s speech, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

“You can’t see the end of it,” Trump said as he marveled at the crowd, according to WPR.

Doctors with the Committee to Protect Medicare held a press call before Trump’s arrival begging him to cancel his rally, as they have done in advance of his other recent visits to Wisconsin hotspots.

During his speech, Trump claimed Biden’s policies would result in factories closing and jobs going overseas. Biden, on the other hand, incorrectly claimed Wisconsin has seen big losses in the sector since Trump took office. 

Biden’s Stark Closing Message in Milwaukee Shows a Recognition of Reality That Escapes Trump
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a Milwaukee audience at Mitchell International Airport, Oct. 30, 2020.

In fact, manufacturing is one area of the Wisconsin economy that has done relatively well under Trump. The sector added 17,000 jobs in the first two years of Trump’s presidency, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; however, the state lost about 4,100 manufacturing jobs in 2019, according to preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released in January.

Trump again told the falsehood that the United States is “rounding the turn” even as Brown County recorded 1,400 new COVID-19 cases and a dozen deaths since the start of the work week.

Trump also said a vaccine would soon be available to “eradicate” the virus though medical experts have repeatedly reminded Americans that a vaccine will not be widely available until well into 2021, with no certainty as to how long each dose will provide immunity.

“I just want a normal life,” said the president, not far from the taxpayer-funded jumbo jet that brought him to Austin Straubel International Airport. “All we want is a normal life.”

According to WPR, Trump’s fans began chanting “Superman!” after he described his own bout with coronavirus.

The final Marquette Law School poll before the election found Biden with a 5-point lead over Trump, with a margin of 48%-43%. The margin of error was plus/minus 4.4%.

The president dismissed polling that shows him behind, coining the incoherent term “suppression polls” to describe them.

“It’s called suppression polls,” he said. “You know what it does? It suppresses the vote.”

In his typical flight-of-ideas speaking style, Trump repeated claims about the US economy, overselling his administration’s pre-pandemic performance, and exaggerating the degree to which the economy has crawled out of its early pandemic crater. The president latched onto a report Thursday showing the economy grew in the third quarter at an annualized rate of 33%.

“Yesterday,” Trump said, “it was announced last quarter our economy grew at the astonishing speed of 33.1%. The largest GDP growth ever recorded, and not just by a little bit, by more than double, and that was in 1952.”

Actually, the previous record for quarterly growth was in the post-war boom year of 1950, but the president also failed to note that the economy had fallen much deeper in the second quarter and 2020 will end with a smaller national economy than how it began. The third quarter growth was a sugar high powered by CARES Act relief funds that are drying up in the absence of White House agreement on a new measure.

Biden’s Stark Closing Message in Milwaukee Shows a Recognition of Reality That Escapes Trump
Air Force One departs Waterford Township, Mich., Friday afternoon, taking President Donald Trump to his next campaign event in Green Bay, WI. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

“In the past five months we’ve created a record 11.4 million American jobs,” Trump said without irony and without noting the figure is barely half of the 22 million jobs lost since the pandemic arrived.

As he does while appearing in any state with a Democratic governor, Trump called on Wisconsin’s governor to end a “lockdown” that does not exist.

“Hey, governor, you got to open up your state here,” he said. “You got to open it up. Got to open up your state. Got to open it up. You know, it’s, uh, it’s sad. It’s sad. You got to go back. You understand, you’re going to socially distance, you’re going to do all the things you want to do.”

Wisconsin is far from being in a lockdown, having had several safeguards challenged or overturned in court.

After again mocking media coverage of the pandemic outbreak, Trump reminded the crowd what they really wanted to hear about the occasion.

“Is there any place better to be than a Trump rally though?” said Trump. “Seriously. It’s great.”




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