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Obama skewers Trump's handling of COVID-19 pandemic at Florida rally

Obama skewers Trump's handling of COVID-19 pandemic at Florida rally
Former President Barack Obama criticized President Donald Trump and his administration over the response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a rally in Florida Tuesday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Former President Barack Obama lambasted President Donald Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic while campaigning for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Florida on Tuesday.

Speaking at Tinker Field in Orlando, Fla., Obama highlighted the toll of the pandemic, which has sickened 8.7 million Americans and killed more than 226,000, while also pointing to multiple outbreaks at the White House.

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"The pandemic would have been challenging for any president, but the idea that this White House has done anything but completely screw this up is nonsense," Obama said.

Trump and about a dozen people linked to events he attended at the White House tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month and over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, and several of his close aides tested positive for the virus.

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"Let me say this: I lived in the White House for a while," Obama said. "You know, it's a well-controlled environment. You can take some preventive measures in the White House to avoid getting sick. Except, this guy can't seem to do it. He's turned the White House into a hot zone."

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He added that the Trump administration is "waving the white flag of surrender" when it comes to combatting the virus, referencing White House chief of staff Mark Meadows' statement over the weekend that the United States is "not going to control" the pandemic and is instead focusing on vaccines and therapeutics.

"We can't afford four more years of this," Obama said.

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Obama also countered comments Trump has made at his recent rallies and on Twitter that the media has been too focused on the pandemic.

"He said at one of his rallies 'COVID, COVID, COVID,' he's complaining," the former president said. "He's jealous of COVID's media coverage."

Conversely, Obama described Biden -- his former vice president -- as a man of "principle and character" stating that he would seek to control the pandemic through widespread testing, free vaccine distribution and providing necessary personal protective equipment to front-line workers.

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"He's going to make sure that small businesses that hold our communities together and employ millions of Americans can reopen safely and he understands that we're not going to rebuild the economy and put people back to work until we get this pandemic under control," he said.

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