PHILADELPHIA - Joe Biden railed against President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and framed the 2020 election as a choice between Main Street and Wall Street during an outdoor town hall meeting Thursday just outside his childhood hometown of Scranton.
The former vice president, taking questions from voters for a little more than an hour in an open-air parking lot in Moosic, said Trump's failure to be honest with Americans about the severity of the virus cost thousands of lives. Trump admitted to downplaying the threat in a recently released recorded interview from March with journalist Bob Woodward.
"He's all about his reelection. It should be about the American people, and they're in trouble," Biden said during the town hall, televised on CNN "We have to be honest with the American people."
Biden, saying the contest was between the ideals of working-class Scranton and upscale Park Avenue, said Trump "only cares about the stock market."
"The way we were raised up here in this area, an awful lot of hard-working people bust their neck," the Scranton native said. "All he thinks about is the stock market ... . In my neighborhood in Scranton, not a whole lot of people own stock."
The night featured mostly friendly questioning, largely from Democratic voters, a stark contrast to the pointed questions Trump faced at an ABC town hall event in Philadelphia on Tuesday. During that event, Trump gave no ground, rewriting the history of his response to the pandemic with assertions directly at odds with his own comments in public and on tape.
Biden said little that would seem to alienate moderate or undecided voters, sticking to his usual practice of empathizing with those in front of him, sharing long-winded personal stories - and decrying Trump as a president who has shredded American norms.
"I've been doing this a long time," Biden said at one point. "I never, ever thought I would see such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible, administration."
Later, asked about whether he had benefited from white privilege, Biden said he had. Trump responded to a similar question from Woodward with derision, saying Woodward "really drank the Kool-Aid."
"I've benefited just because I don't have to go through what my Black brothers and sisters have had to go through," Biden said Thursday. He then turned the focus to his own upbringing in Scranton and later Delaware, noting how journalists have pointed out that he lacks an Ivy League education.