Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered a scathing review of how President Donald Trump’s presidency has hurt senior citizens, telling a group of older voters that his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic — which has been especially deadly to the elderly — suggests he feels they’re “expendable” and “forgettable.”
Biden, speaking to a socially distanced crowd at a senior citizen community center in southern Florida, also hit Trump over his statements on possibly cutting Social Security and his record on lowering prescription drug costs, but saved his breath almost entirely for criticism of how the president’s response to the virus has hurt older people in particular.
“While you're losing precious time with your loved ones, he's been stuck in a sand trap at one of his golf courses, and when he does decide to lift a finger it isn't to help you,” Biden said.
“While he throws superspreader parties at the White House, while Republicans hug each other, without concern of the consequences, how many of you have been unable to hug your grandkids the last seven months?" Biden said.
Citing Trump’s erratic spate of statements recently on a potential new stimulus bill to stem the economic damage from the pandemic, Biden said that “all this president knows how to do is play games with people’s lives and families’ futures.”
The Democratic nominee added that Trump’s past remarks that the virus “affects virtually nobody” and that the death toll “is what it is” were evidence that the president felt that senior citizens were “expendable.”
“Who was he talking about when he said it affects virtually nobody? He was talking about America's seniors. He was talking about you. He was talking about my family,” Biden said. “You've worked hard your whole life contributing to society, building a family, building a country, serving America. You deserve security. You deserve respect and peace of mind. But you're not getting it.”
“To Donald Trump, it's simple, not a joke, you're expendable. You're forgettable. You're virtually nobody. That's how he sees seniors. That's how he sees you,” Biden continued.
Polls in Florida show an exceptionally close race, and Biden has led Trump in five of the last six polls tracked by NBC News, since late September.
Polls also show that voters 65 and older, who comprise a large chunk of the population of retirement-community dotted South Florida, have been fleeing Trump in droves — an apparent response to Biden’s efforts to court them by painting himself as a steady, competent leader who would listen to scientists and develop a national plan to combat the coronavirus.
Biden, repeating previous attacks on Trump over his record on issues affecting older voters, said Tuesday that Trump had “pledged to eliminate the tax that is dedicated to financing Social Security,” which, he said, “would bankrupt Social Security in just a few years.”
Trump, throughout his first term, repeatedly tried to cut these programs in his proposed budgets and said on at least one occasion that he would want to make “permanent cuts” to the payroll tax — an action that would require congressional approval — if he wins in November. Some experts have said that move could, in theory, totally deplete Social Security by 2023.
At a second event later Tuesday — a drive-in rally in nearby Miramar — Biden pledged to govern, if elected, by seeking bipartisan consensus on an array of issues, saying "the only way Democracy can function is with consensus."
"Otherwise," he added, "it becomes semi-dictatorial like this guy is trying to be."
A recent national NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Biden leading Trump by 14 points, his largest advantage ever in the survey. Among seniors 65 and older, Biden led by a startling 27 points, marking a 23-point swing in his direction in one month. The swing is an especially alarming sign for Trump, who, according to NBC News exit polls in 2016, won that crucial Republican-leaning cohort by 8 points in 2016.
Those polls come as Trump faces growing disapproval for his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans. Some estimates have indicated that 80 percent of the death toll were senior citizens.
As a result, Florida, in particular, has emerged as one of the most visited states by both campaigns in recent days. Biden’s swing through the state Tuesday came just a week after he came to hold a town hall in Miami.
Trump visited the state on Monday — his first campaign travel since his hospitalization for Covid-19 ended — and Vice President Mike Pence held several events in the state over the weekend. Both Trump and Pence are scheduled to return for events on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Biden campaign has outspent the Trump campaign $34 million to $20 on ads in the state since Labor Day, according to Advertising Analytics.