Trump team hit by Covid again, lashes out at 'failure' Biden

Washington (AFP) –


Donald Trump's reelection campaign on Sunday sought to brush off another Covid outbreak in his team by focusing its attacks on Joe Biden's energy levels and accusing him of "47 years of failure" in Washington.

Nine days before the vote, the US has been engulfed by a surge in Covid-19 cases, reaching a record number of daily infections for a second day running on Saturday with nearly 89,000 new cases.

Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, as well as a number of other aides, tested positive over the weekend, swelling the list of the administration staff to have caught the virus.

"The vice president is going to continue his travel schedule," Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told Fox News.

"He takes this very seriously... The folks on his staff are in quarantine, and he relies on the very sound medical advice of the White House medical unit."

Murtaugh slammed Biden for his light campaign schedule, saying the Democratic challenger was "feeling the heat" and "took five out of six days off" before the last presidential debate on Thursday.

"President Trump has accomplished more in 47 months than Joe Biden has in 47 years of failure," Murtaugh added.

The remarks drew a contrast to the furious pace that Trump, 74, has maintained for days -- including planned stops Sunday in New Hampshire and Maine -- while Biden has set a more cautious course, speaking less frequently and to smaller, socially distanced groups.

- Contrasting campaigns -

Biden, 77, planned on Sunday only to take part in a virtual "I will vote" concert, his campaign said.

But his deputy campaign manager vigorously defended him, telling NBC's "Meet the Press," that "we are campaigning incredibly hard."

"The difference between what we're doing and what Donald Trump is doing," said Kate Bedingfield, is that "we're doing it safely."

Nearly 225,000 people in the US have died from Covid-19, by far the world's highest toll.

Ahead of the November 3 election -- and with more than 57 million Americans having cast early votes -- both campaigns are scrambling to make their closing arguments and win over the few still undecided voters.

On Saturday, an energized Biden and former president Barack Obama accused Trump of massively mishandling the pandemic.

"Donald Trump isn't suddenly going to protect all of us. He can't even take the basic steps to protect himself," Obama said, referring to Trump's hospitalization for Covid-19 three weeks ago.

But the president has remained ebullient and constantly sought to project confidence despite trailing in national polls.

Trump, who has sought to divert attention from the pandemic to his plans for the economy, told supporters in North Carolina, "This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression."

He even suggested at one point Saturday -- against nearly all predictions -- that Republicans might reclaim control of the House of Representatives.

That drew a blunt rejoinder Sunday from House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told CNN the president's comment was "just another example of delusional statements he (has) made."

- Grim polls for Trump -

Trump plowed through three campaign rallies in one day on Saturday as he sought to close the gap with Biden by playing down the severity of the coronavirus crisis and complaining that the media was fixated on the problem.

Biden's response: Trump himself should be more fixated on the problem.

"That's Donald Trump's presidency," Biden said during a drive-in rally Saturday in his native Pennsylvania, a critical swing state.

"Donald Trump said, and is still saying, 'we're rounding the corner. It's going away. We're learning how to live with it.'"

Biden said: "We're not learning how to live with it. You're asking us to learn how to die with it."

But both Republicans and Democrats are wary of polling after the stunning upset Trump pulled off in 2016 when he defeated Hillary Clinton.