US Democrat Joe Biden on Tuesday said that he will not hold presidential campaign rallies during the coronavirus pandemic, an extraordinary declaration that stands in stark contrast with Donald Trump who has already held large campaign gatherings.
During a question-and-answer session with media in Delaware to discuss the pandemic and ways to mitigate its spread, Biden said, “This is the most unusual campaign I think in modern history”.
“I’m going to follow the doc’s orders — not just for me but for the country — and that means that I am not going to be holding rallies,” said Biden, adding he has not yet been tested for COVID-19.
Biden has effectively been his party’s leader since his last challenger in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, ended his campaign in April.
The former vice president’s announcement comes amid growing alarm about America’s failure to contain a crisis which has already killed more than 126,000 people nationwide, with top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warning Congress that daily infections could more than double to 100,000 without a sufficiently robust response.
In the few trips he has made, such as to Texas or Pennsylvania, the events have been small, and participants were masked and adhering to social distancing recommendations.
During such trips “I get in, make my case, take questions and leave,” Biden said. ”
The Democratic National Committee earlier postponed the party’s presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to August 17, the week before the Republican Party’s convention, scheduled for August 24 to 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The DNCC said epidemiologist and infectious disease experts W. Ian Lipking and Larry Brilliant will help advise the committee on efforts to protect the health and safety of convention staff, attendees and Wisconsin residents.
In May, Biden and the Democratic Party raised nearly $81 million, 10 percent more than Trump, although the president has more overall campaign cash.
“They tell me 200 million people have watched what I have done from home and the half a dozen things we’ve gone out and done,” Biden said.
“And so the irony is I think we’re probably communicating directly, in detail, with more people than we would have otherwise. But I’d much rather be doing it in-person”, he further added.
Biden is currently leading in national polling, as well as in surveys conducted in several swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, battlegrounds that were critical to Trump’s victory in 2016.
The 2020 US presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3.