“For eight years, Joe was the last one in the room when I faced a big decision. He made me a better president. And he has the experience and character to make us a better country,” Barack Obama said.
Former President Barack Obama blasted President Donald Trump’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, his role in dividing the nation, and his overall fitness—or lack thereof—for the job on Wednesday when he made his first in-person campaign pitch for his former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“I’ve sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president, and they are very different people,” Obama said, standing at a podium in front of rows of cars at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia.
“For eight years, Joe was the last one in the room when I faced a big decision. He made me a better president. And he has the experience and character to make us a better country.”
Obama praised Biden, who has referred to himself as “a scrappy kid from Scranton,” as “a man who has known all along to treat everybody with dignity and respect.”
Biden is “a friend to working people,” Obama said.
“Joe sees this moment not just as a chance to get back to where we were, but to finally make long overdue changes so that our economy actually makes life a little easier for everybody—the waitress trying to raise her kid on her own, the student trying to figure out how to pay for next semester’s classes, the shift worker who’s always on the edge of getting laid off, the cancer survivor who’s worried about her pre-existing conditions protections being taken away.”
Obama said Biden and running mate US Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) have concrete plans to help Americans.
“Joe’s not going to screw up testing,” Obama said. “He’s not going to call scientists idiots. He’s not going to host a superspreader event at the White House.”
Biden is going to speed up the process of coronavirus vaccine testing, make sure every American gets a vaccine for free and front-line workers have the personal protective equipment they need, Obama said. Biden has plans to make sure parents and essential workers have paid sick leave and small businesses can reopen safely.
RELATED: Trump Told Americans Not to Be Afraid of COVID-19. These Survivors Say That Was a ‘Slap in the Face.’
“Joe and Kamala will protect your health care, and expand Medicare, and make insurance more affordable for everybody,” Obama said.
“Now Joe and I actually protected your pre-existing conditions and coverage. We did it through something called the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Republicans tried to appeal or undermine it more than 60 times. They keep promising, ‘We’re going to have a great replacement.’ They said, ‘It’s coming.’ It’s been coming in two weeks for 10 years. Where is it? Where is this great plan to replace Obamacare? They’ve had 10 years to do it. There is no plan. They’ve never had one.”
Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act have driven up costs, Obama said.
And now, Obama said, they’re trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court as we speak, as quickly as they can, in the middle of a pandemic—with nothing but empty promises to take its place. It’s shameful. The idea that you would take health care away from people at the very moment where people need it the most. What is the logic of that? There is no logic.”
Obama said he and Biden left a pandemic playbook for Trump that would have shown him what to do before the coronavirus got to the US.
“They probably used it to, I don’t know, prop up a wobbly table somewhere,” Obama said.
“Joe knows the first job of a president is to keep us safe from all threats—foreign, domestic, or microscopic.”
And if Biden wins the election, Obama said, “you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day, and that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting. You might be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner without having an argument.”
Obama said Americans won’t have to worry about Biden and Harris retweeting conspiracy theories, or insulting people who don’t support them or threatening to send people to jail.
“That’s not normal presidential behavior,” Obama said.
“We wouldn’t tolerate it from a high school principal. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a coach. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a co-worker. We wouldn’t tolerate it in our family, except maybe a crazy uncle somewhere.”
Trump’s actions have consequences, Obama said.
“They embolden other people to be cruel, and divisive, and racist. It frays the fabric of our society, and it affects how our children see things. It affects the ways that our families get along. It affects how the world looks at America,” Obama said. “That behavior matters. Character matters.”
Biden and Harris will fight for Americans—even those who disagree with them—every day, Obama said.
“I’m asking you to remember what this country can be,” Obama said. “I’m asking you to believe in Joe’s ability and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of these dark times and help us build it back better.”
Obama acknowledged that many polls show Biden in the lead.
“I don’t care about the polls,” he said. “There were a whole bunch of polls last time. It didn’t work out. Because a whole bunch of folks stayed at home and got lazy and complacent. Not this time. Not in this election.”
Obama said it’s important to vote “like never before.”
“We cannot leave any doubt in this election,” he said.