Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at the William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at the William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Biden says his plan includes widely available testing, supplies, and economic relief. 

“As far as the eye can see,” President Trump said at a campaign rally Tuesday in Winston-Salem, “I really believe that these crowds are bigger than they were four years ago.” 

Speaking before a crowd who largely ignored North Carolina’s mandate to wear facemasks, Trump mocked his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, for following safety guidelines amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In contrast this week, Biden suggested that Trump’s flouting of the state’s public health policies is bravado masking Trump’s lack of a policy to stem the virus’ spread.

“North Carolinians will not hear President Trump discuss how he plans to get this virus under control,” Biden said in a statement, “nor will they hear plans to safely restart our economy or provide much-needed relief to struggling workers, parents, and small business owners,” WXII reported.

“As President, I will fight for your family like it’s my own,” Biden said. “I will bring our country together to defeat this pandemic and build our economy back better so that it works for all North Carolinians and leaves no one behind.”

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The quotes illustrate the two camps’ vastly different approaches to campaigning in a swing state during a pandemic.

Biden embraces guidelines supported by health officials, even saying he’d mandate facemasks nationally as a patriotic duty. The former vice president’s stated plan calls for widely available testing, affordable preventative care, vaccine development and economic relief. 

Trump has promised a vaccine, but the president has been widely criticized for not developing a coronavirus plan even as it surged across the country. The highly contagious virus has killed 191,803 Americans and infected more than 6.3 million. The  president has also defied restrictions, including those of NC Gov. Roy Cooper, designed to contain COVID-19, claiming without evidence that they are politically motivated.

“By the way, your state should be open,” Trump reportedly said to cheers in Winston-Salem.

Biden has largely eschewed in-person events for virtual speeches or small gatherings, but basking in the crowd of several thousand supporters in NC this week, Trump denigrated attendance at a typical Biden event.

“If he had 200 people, I think it would be a lot,” Trump said. “Have you ever seen the gyms with the circles? That’s his crowd.”

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In truth, Biden has kept a low in-person profile in North Carolina, not visiting the Tar Heel state since Feb. 29, three days before the Super Tuesday primary, although he has reportedly indicated plans to visit the state.

Instead, on the same day as Trump’s Winston-Salem event, high-profile Biden supporter Stacey Abrams headlined a virtual rally alongside leaders from across North Carolina, including Democratic NC Sen. Jeff Jackson and former US Congresswoman Eva Clayton.

More telling, Biden seemed to be saving most of his NC face time for television and computer screens across the state, in an aggressive campaign that has invested millions of dollars in advertisements, WTVD reported.”I think Joe Biden not only has a strong presence, but he’s doing it in a way that respects the health of our people and underscores the message that we have to get a hold for the pandemic and hold Trump accountable for his failure to deal with it,” US House Rep. David Price, a Democrat from the Triangle, said Tuesday, according to ABC11.