US Democratic candidate Joe Biden called President Donald Trump's downplaying of COVID-19 "close to criminal".
US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden repeatedly criticised President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday at a town hall event, calling the administration "irresponsible".
“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” Biden said at a CNN drive-in style town hall in Pennsylvania.
On Trump's admission that he downplayed the pandemic, Biden said: “He knew it and did nothing. It’s close to criminal."
"I never, ever thought I would see just such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration," he said later.
The format was fit for the times: the drive-in format had audience members sitting near cars that were parked by the stage.
Biden faced questions about the coronavirus pandemic and a potential vaccine but also was pressed on legislation to limit greenhouse gases.
Biden's proposal does not go as far as that of progressives in Congress. It aims to reduce emissions to zero by 2050 and has a goal of achieving an entirely carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.
Biden also weighed in on foreign policy issues, stating that any attempt to interfere with the election by a foreign power is a “violation of our sovereignty.” He referred to Russia as an "opponent" and said they would pay an economic price if they interfere in the election.
The town hall was largely seen as preparation for upcoming presidential debates, the first of which will be held on September 29.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump held a campaign rally on Thursday in Wisconsin, a battleground state that his campaign sees as pivotal for his reelection.
He continued his discourse on culture, stating: "We’re launching a new pro-American lesson plan for students called 1776 Commission. We’re going to teach our children the truth about America."
He has also touted a "law and order" message and said he "saved the suburbs" by sending troops to confront protesters.
Trump's event took place largely outside an aircraft hangar in a rural area of the state.