Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he’d follow the advice of scientists about whether he’d get a coronavirus vaccine if one became available before November’s presidential election, as President Trump tore into the Democratic ticket over vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris's recent comments on the issue.
“I would want to see what the scientists said,” the former vice president told reporters Monday of a vaccine after speaking with supporters during a stop in Lancaster, Pa.
Biden also emphasized he’d welcome an effective vaccine regardless of the consequences to his campaign.
“If I could get a vaccine tomorrow I’d do it,” he stressed. “If it cost me the election I’d do it. We need a vaccine and we need it now.”
Biden – who’s heavily criticized Trump’s steering of the federal government’s response to the pandemic -- also called for “full transparency on the vaccine.” And he once again argued that the president’s repeated misstatements and falsehoods regarding when a vaccine will become available are “undermining public confidence.”
Biden charged that when it comes to a vaccine, Trump’s “playing with politics. He said so many things that aren’t true.” And he cautioned that “if we do have a really good vaccine people are going to be reluctant to take it.”
Harris has taken heat after answering a question during a CNN interview that aired on Sunday about a possible vaccine by saying “I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about. I will not take his word for it.”
The president fired back Monday during a news conference.
Trump emphasized that Biden and Harris “should immediately apologize for the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric that they’re talking right now, talking about endangering lives and it undermines science.”
And the president claimed that a vaccine could become available “during the month of October," ahead of the presidential election.“You could have a very big surprise coming up."
“The vaccine will be very safe and effective,” he speculated. “The people will be happy, the people of the world will be happy.”
Nearly 190,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 since the coronavirus swept the nation in February and March, with nearly 6.3 million total cases across the country.
Also on Labor Day, Biden showcased his support for organized labor.
“You’re going to have the best friend labor has ever had in the White House,” Biden told a small group of union members gathered in Lancaster.
The former vice president, who’s long been a strong supporter of organized labor, later headed to Harrisburg – Pennsylvania’s capital city. Biden stopped at the state AFL-CIO headquarters to join a virtual event with union President Richard Trumka, and take questions from rank and file members.
Besides being a crucial general election battleground state, Pennsylvania’s also Biden’s native state. He was born and spent his first decade in Scranton, a working class city in the northeastern part of the state. And it’s no surprise that Biden – who spotlights his working-class roots and middle-class values – has won the lion’s share of union endorsements in the general election race.
Biden took to Twitter to praise organized labor, noting that “The 40-hour workweek Minimum wage Overtime pay Health care Workplace safety protections They’re all because of unions — and it’s time we recognize that.”
And in a video released ahead of his trip, Biden spotlighted one of the core themes of his campaign, that “Wall Street didn’t build this country, unions built it, unions built the middle class.”
And he emphasized that if elected, he’d push for the “the dignity of workers at the center of this economy, raising wages and safeguarding pensions, empowering unions, and investing in a true made in America future that spurs of new well, paying jobs.”
The economy and creating jobs was the president’s wheelhouse – but that was before the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation and flattened the nation’s economy.
Biden has repeatedly slammed the president’s performance on trying to re-inflate the economy.
On Monday, he told AFL-CIO members that Trump's economy has "been great for his rich friends," but emphasized that it hasn't "been great for the rest of us."
And he pledged if elected that "we’re going to make sure we pay people what they’re worth. It’s not enough to praise essential workers, it’s about time we start paying you. We’re going to empower workers and empower unions."
On Friday he said that “Donald Trump may be the only president in modern history to leave office with fewer jobs that when he took office.”
Biden spoke a couple of hours after the Labor Department reported that employers continued to bring back furlough workers last month – but at a much slower rate than in the late spring, when the economy began reopening after being shuttered in March as coronavirus cases surged.
The U.S. economy added 1.4 million jobs in August, according to the Labor Department, down from 1.7 million in July and a plunge from the 4.8 million added in June. But the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%, down from 14.7% in April and 10.2% in July.
The president tweeted soon after the report’s release, touting “Great Jobs Numbers! 1.37 Million Jobs Added In August. Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.4% (Wow, much better than expected!). Broke the 10% level faster and deeper than thought possible.”
On Monday, the president touted his job handling the economic reoovery, and looking ahead to next year once again vowed to "create 10 million jobs at least in the first 10 months."
Trump also pledged to pass "new tax cuts to boost take home pay. We’re going to be cutting taxes very substantially and get it back through growth."
The “great American comeback” – as the president and his campaign call the recovery – is also the theme of a new Trump re-election campaign commercial that’s running this week in 6 battleground states and on national cable TV.
The announcer in the spot emphasizes that “the greatest economy the world has ever seen coming back to life.”
While Biden noted that “I'm grateful for everyone who found work again and found a glimmer of hope,” he highlighted that “28 million people have filed for unemployment and after six months of the pandemic, we’re less than half way back to where we were, with 11.5 million not getting their jobs back.”
According to the Labor Department report released Friday, manufacturing employment rose by 29,000. But despite gains in recent months, employment in manufacturing is 720,000 below February’s level. The government’s figures also indicated that there was little change in employment in mining, construction, and information.
“I talk to a lot of real working people. Ask them, they feel like they’re being left behind,” the former vice president stressed. “The report reinforces the worst fears and painful truths, the economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under a failed presidency.”
And comparing the nation’s jobless rate to other nations, Biden argued that “during the pandemic our unemployment rate is still more than double, while other nations have only gone up by half. Why, because the president has botched the COVID response, botched it badly.”