Biden condemns Trump for ‘walking away’ as coronavirus ravages the US
WASHINGTON: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Sunday he blames US President Donald Trump for "walking away" as Covid-19 ravaged the country, in a televised interview alongside running mate Kamala Harris on the eve of the Republican convention.
Mr Trump, who is trailing Mr Biden in polls, has been heavily criticised for his response to the pandemic, during which he has pushed for lockdown restrictions to be lifted early, been hesitant to embrace face masks, touted treatments not supported by medical experts and insisted the virus will just "disappear".
"I don't blame him for the current crisis," Mr Biden told ABC as the US neared 5.7 million infections and 177,000 deaths, by far the most in absolute terms of any country in the world.
"I blame him for walking away and not dealing with solutions."
With the economy in shambles after pandemic-related lockdowns, Mr Biden said again the only way to get back on track was to bring the virus under control.
He vowed to heed scientific advice on the pandemic - even if it would mean shutting the country down once more.
He criticised the segment of Americans who cite their "freedom" as they still resist wearing masks, despite evidence suggesting such barriers are one of the best ways to break transmission of Covid-19.
It's "the first time I've ever heard people say that doing something patriotic, you can save other people's lives, impacts on their freedom," he said.
The former vice-president also responded to repeated attacks by Mr Trump on his mental acuity, admitting it was a "legitimate question to ask whether anybody over 70 years old" is fit for the presidency.
But the 77-year-old added: "Watch me, Mr President, watch me. Look at us both... what kind of shape we're in."
Questions have repeatedly been raised over 74-year-old Trump's own health, and he has previously claimed he "aced" a cognitive test that he said proves he has the mental stamina to lead.
The joint interview with Mr Biden and Ms Harris aired the night before the beginning of the Republican National Convention, during which Mr Trump is seeking to recover momentum in his uphill re-election struggle. - AFP