Joe Biden’s campaign manager forcefully defended the Democratic nominee’s pandemic-altered campaign activities, asserting Tuesday that “people will die” because of rallies held by President Donald Trump that shirk safety precautions aimed at preventing transmission of the novel coronavirus.
In a POLITICO Playbook interview, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon pointed to indoor campaign rallies Trump held this week, in direct contradiction with the coronavirus guidelines of his own administration, as well as a packed event on the South Lawn of the White House where Trump is celebrating the normalization of relations between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
O’Malley Dillon called Tuesday’s signing ceremony “another day after day episode showing the fact that the president of the United States is taking guidelines from medical experts about what to do in a pandemic to stay safe and help make sure your colleagues and neighbors are safe, and not executing it… at the White House.”
She added that she was “horrified” to see pictures from the day before of around 100 Trump supporters packed into a ballroom in Arizona, mostly maskless, for an event billed as a roundtable by a campaign.
“People will die because of these types of events and that’s from the president of the United States,” she asserted. “And you look at folks that might not be wearing masks or aren’t taking this seriously and you understand how that’s the case.”
Despite Biden generally approving of the diplomatic breakthrough being commemorated at the White House on Tuesday, she said, Trump “continues to just suggest that we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic and it’s really problematic but so emblematic of his lack of leadership and what we are going to continue to stay focused on.”
The Trump campaign has repeatedly defended its resumption of campaign rallies amid the pandemic, with thousands of fans packing airplane hangars for the events in recent weeks, mostly eschewing safety precautions like masks and physical distancing. The campaign has argued that it is a voter’s choice to attend Trump’s rallies, which O’Malley Dillon described as “superspreader” events for the coronavirus.
Biden has been criticized for his relatively light campaign schedule throughout the pandemic, opting for entirely virtual events up until the last month or so. He has since resumed campaign traveling, with smaller events where masks and social distancing are ubiquitous.