Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday that Democrats needed to “win overwhelmingly” in November to stop any “phony challenges” about the integrity of the election from President Trump, as the second debate between the two men, scheduled for next week, was formally canceled, according to two people familiar with the debate commission’s decision.
“We can’t just win,” Mr. Biden told Latino leaders in Las Vegas, accusing Mr. Trump of deploying scare tactics to sow doubt and confusion about the results. “We have to win overwhelmingly.”
Later, in a speech in Las Vegas, delivered while wearing a mask before a drive-in audience, Mr. Biden lashed out at Mr. Trump for his behavior since he tested positive for the virus a week ago.
“His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis, the destabilizing effect it’s having on our government, is unconscionable,” Mr. Biden said. “The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he gets.”
Mr. Biden’s supporters honked in approval from their cars.
‘Unconscionable’: Biden Condemns Trump’s Post-Diagnosis Conduct
Joseph R. Biden Jr. also called President Trump’s behavior since his coronavirus diagnosis ‘reckless’ during a drive-in Las Vegas rally, where attendees honked in support.
“You deserve a president who understands what you’re going through, who sees you where you are, and where you want to be. The last thing you need is a president who ignores you, looks down upon you, who just doesn’t understand who in God’s name we are. That’s President Trump. His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis, the destabilizing effect it’s having on our government is unconscionable. He didn’t take the necessary precautions to protect himself or others. And the longer Donald Trump is president the more reckless he gets. How can we trust him to protect this country?” “Look what’s happened: More than 210,000 Americans are dead; 420,000 have been hospitalized. We lose anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people every single day in America — worse than any country in the world.”
Mr. Trump has rejected anything but an in-person format for the next debate, which had been scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami. But the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., said on Friday that the Cleveland Clinic, which is advising on health protocol, believed a remote format was safest given Mr. Trump’s illness and the uncertainty about his health.
“Our crew, our cameramen, our lighting people, were very, very upset,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said in an interview with the Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade about the last debate. “They were onstage with the president in Cleveland. He wasn’t wearing a mask. They’re upset, they’re concerned about their families.”
Pressed if the commission would reconsider an in-person debate, Mr. Fahrenkopf said, “At this point and time, there is no evidence whatsoever whether or not the president tested negative.” He added that the commission could have difficulty finding voters “who aren’t afraid” to share a stage with Mr. Trump at a town-hall-style event.
“We decided we’re going to do what’s safe,” he said.
The final debate is now scheduled for Oct. 22, at Belmont University in Nashville, with Kristen Welker of NBC News previously announced as the moderator. The Biden campaign has said it will participate in that debate regardless of the format, although the Democrat’s aides would prefer a town-hall-style event. The Trump campaign is also onboard with the date.
With Mr. Trump recuperating from the coronavirus at the White House, Mr. Biden was wrapping up a two-day Western swing in the midst of his most travel-heavy week of the general election, with appearances in Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Nevada.
The Biden campaign also pressed its advantage on the airwaves, surpassing the $500 million mark in paid digital and television ads this year, compared with $438 million for the Trump campaign, according to data from Advertising Analytics. Mr. Biden has tens of millions of dollars more in advertising booked than the president in the coming weeks in the key battleground states, as well.
On Friday, Biden campaign officials rolled out seven new political ads, including one that is narrated by the actor Samuel L. Jackson and is aimed at mobilizing Black voters, and a rare ad designed to mobilize Asian-American voters.
Ahead in the polls, Mr. Biden has accused Mr. Trump of raising doubts about the election’s legitimacy because he is losing. “He tried to continue to convince everybody there’s ways they can play with the vote and undermine the vote,” Mr. Biden said in Las Vegas. “They can’t. If we show up, we win.”
Mr. Biden’s remarks came just as Mr. Trump issued a Twitter missive about vote-counting and potential errors, highlighting that Franklin County in Ohio had sent voters nearly 50,000 incorrect absentee ballots. “A Rigged Election!!!” Mr. Trump wrote. County officials promised to send corrected ballots within 72 hours.
Mr. Trump, who has not held a public event since he tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized for three days last week, appears to be itching to return to the campaign trail and is now planning his first in-person event on Saturday on the South Lawn of the White House, with hundreds of attendees.
Annie Karni and Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting.
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