Democratic nominee Joe Biden went after Attorney General Bill Barr for saying that coronavirus lockdown orders were the ‘greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history’ since slavery.
‘Quite frankly they’re sick,’ Biden remarked of Barr’s comments at a Thursday night CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper. ‘I never, ever thought I would see such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration.’
Biden said he was in disbelief that Barr would almost equate ‘following the recommendations of the scientific community’ to save lives during the coronavirus crisis to ‘people being put in chains.’
‘You lost your freedom because he didn’t act,’ Biden said – that comment likely intended for his political rival, President Donald Trump.
‘You’ve got to level with the American people, shoot from the shoulder. There’s never been a time when they’ve have not been able to step up,’ Biden said. ‘This president should step down,’ the Democratic nominee said.
The former vice president said he’d consider fining people on federal property – which is in the president’s jurisdiction – for not wearing masks, after having already called for a nationwide mask mandate, which he’d have to implement by putting pressure on governors.
‘If you’re on federal property you must wear a mask,’ he said. ‘And we could have a fine for them not doing it.’
The town hall featured a number of people who experienced loss – a Republican nurse whose police officer husband died from cancer contracted after cleaning up Ground Zero post-9/11, an immunocompromised teacher whose wive lost her mother to COVID-19.
The event opened with a woman who lost her mother to the coronavirus.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden went after President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr who said hat coronavirus lockdown orders were the ‘greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history’ since slavery
‘You’ve lost your freedom because he didn’t act,’ Joe Biden said blasting President Donald Trump’s inaction on the coronavirus during Thursday night’s CNN town hall outside of his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania
Joe Biden (left) told Anderson Cooper (right) he’d consider fining people for not wearing masks on federal property if elected president
Audience members are photographed watching Joe Biden from outside their cars, as CNN set the town hall up to be like a drive-in movie theater
Joe Biden (left) talked to a number of people who experienced loss, including Joe Vadala (right) an immunocompromised teacher whose wife lost her mother to COVID-19
A look at the drive-in movie theater set-up CNN constructed for Joe Biden’s Scranton-area town hall event
‘First of all, I feel so badly for you,’ he told the woman. ‘You know, we talk about … almost 200,000 deaths and it’s almost like background noise,’
‘But it means a lot of empty chairs. It means a lot of children without their mothers or fathres. It means a lot of people not able to see their parents, so much, so my heart goes out to you,’ Biden said.
And while the virus was top of mind, Biden was asked about the summer of racial unrest as well.
Biden explained why he stuck up for peaceful protesters but criticized Trump for restarting his rallies.
The ex-veep said COVID-19 safety was important on both scenarios.
‘There is a big difference between people walking, moving along, and people sitting down, cheek to jaw, shoulder to shoulder, a thousand of them, breathing on one another, indoors and out, that causes real serious problems,’ he said.
At one point, Cooper asked Biden if he believed he benefited from white privilege.
In one of the taperecorded interviews between Trump and journalist Bob Woodward, Trump scoffed at the idea.
‘Sure, I’ve benefitted just because I don’t have to go through what my Black brothers and sisters have had to go through,’ Biden answered.
Biden then made the point that growing up in Scranton, ‘we’re used to guys who look down their nose at us.’
‘Well I’ll tell you what bothered me, to tell you the truth, maybe it’s my Scranton roots, I don’t know,’ he told Cooper. ‘But when you guys started talking on television about Biden if he wins will be the first person without an Ivy League degree to be elected president.’
‘Who the hell makes you think I have to have an Ivy League degree to be president?’ Biden said, garnering applause from the audience.
Biden would be the first president since President Ronald Reagan to not hold an Ivy League degree.
‘We are as good as anybody else,’ Biden said. ‘And guys like Trump who inherited everything and squandered what they inherited are the people I’ve always had a problem with. Not the people busting their neck.’
Throughout the town hall, Biden continued to talk about the election was between Scranton and Park Avenue.
‘All that Trump can see from Park Avenue is Wall Street. All he thinks about is the stock market,’ Biden said at one point.
He also said that Trump downplayed the coronavirus crisis because his eyes were on Wall Street then as well.
CNN created a drive-in movie theater set-up inside a ball park for the event.
‘Who knew drive-ins were coming back?’ Cooper remarked as the event opened.
Biden’s audience consisted 250 people gathered, the campaign confirmed, keeping in line with Pennsylania’s coronavirus regulations.
The ball park is where the aptly named Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders play.
The old school drive-in has become a stand-in – at least on the Democratic side – for campaign rallies, as Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have preached caution about supporters attending gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Democratic Party set up a drive-in in a parking lot outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware on the final night of the Democratic National Convention so there would be an audience to cheer Biden and Harris as they emerged together as the official presidential ticket to watch fireworks.
Supporters watched the virtual convention on large screens and then cheered and honked their horns when Biden and Harris briefly appeared.
Additionally, in cities around the country, watch parties were set up drive-in style so Democratic supporters could watch Biden’s nominating speech together.
The town hall brings Biden – who was born in Scranton before moving to Wilmington – to the key swing state two days after President Donald Trump made the trek to Philadelphia for his own town hall with Pennsylvania voters.
Trump’s town hall was produced by ABC News and was filmed indoors at the National Constitution Center, where the only audience was the likely voters questioning the president.
Joe Biden supporters celebrate the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention last month in a parking lot outside the Chase Center in Wilmington that was set up like a drive-in movie theater
Supporters in the parking lot were able to see (from left) Jill and Joe Biden, as well as Douglas Emhoff and Kamala Harris, watch fireworks at the conclusion of Biden’s speech accepting the Democratic nomination
Joe Biden’s town hall comes two days after President Donald Trump participated in a Philadelphia town hall, filmed indoors at the National Constitution Center, with only people posing questions as audience members. They wore masks and sat six feet apart
They all sat six feet apart and wore masks, until they posed their questions to Trump.
The president has been more cavalier about his campaigning amid a continued spread of the coronavirus.
Last weekend he held his first indoor rally since June in the state of Nevada.
He’s packed thousands into airport hangars as well.
The campaign has encouraged mask-wearing of attendees, but droves have rebelled.
At a recent rally in New Hampshire, Trump supporters booed when a voice over the loudspeaker encouraged them to wear masks.
The president told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he wasn’t personally worried about contracting the coronavirus at these events.
‘I’m on a stage and it’s very far away,’ he told the paper. ‘And so I’m not at all concerned.’