Leading in polls, Biden campaigns in central Pa., but remains largely out of sight

Biden on Trump's handling of coronavirus: 'It's all whining and self-pity'

  • Russ Walker
WITF is organizing a series of online forums on race and justice this summer, hosted by WURD Radio’s Charles Ellison. The next forum — on the topic of Black Trauma & Mental Health — scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on July 2. Details on how you can sign up for the free event are online here. And here’s a link to the first event in the series. — Russ Walker, PA Post editor
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden departs after speaking at an event Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Lancaster, Pa.

Matt Slocum / AP Photo

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden departs after speaking at an event Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Lancaster, Pa.

Joe Biden, the former vice president and U.S. senator, traveled to Lancaster on Thursday to deliver a short speech blasting President Trump’s efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”

The presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee spent just a few hours in central Pa., meeting with a small group of Pennsylvanians who benefited from the ACA and then delivering a 19-minute speech that began with Biden briefly leaving his face mask hanging from his left ear  and went on to include some personal jabs at the president.

On the Trump administration’s lawsuit to overturn the ACA: “It’s cruel, it’s heartless, and it’s callous. And it’s all because he can’t abide the thought of letting stand one of President Obama’s greatest achievements.”

On Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and, specifically, the president’s remarks about wanting to slow down the pace of testing so that fewer positive results are recorded: “He’s like a child who just can’t believe this has happened to him. It’s all whining and self-pity. This pandemic didn’t happen to him. It happened to all of us. And his job isn’t to whine about it. His job is to do something about it.”

Biden’s visit came on the same day that the national media was reporting on a slate of polls from battleground states showing that President Trump is badly trailing.

From The Washington Post: Trump is “Trump is also losing independents in each of those states after winning them four years ago, according to exit polling. On average, independents moved 15 points away from Trump across the six states.”

From The New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s once-commanding advantage among white voters has nearly vanished, a development that would all but preclude the president’s re-election if it persisted. Mr. Biden now has a 21-point lead among white college graduates, and the president is losing among white voters in the three Northern battleground states — not by much, but he won them by nearly 10 points in 2016.”

And from The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Biden’s strength is really Trump’s weakness. Among Trump supporters, 76% said their vote was about the president. Among Biden supporters, 54% said their vote was in opposition to Trump.”

As for Biden’s speech in Lancaster, it generated the sort of headlines his campaign was undoubtedly hoping for:

For more flavor on Biden’s visit, check out these stories:

Finally, some thoughts on how Biden’s campaign handled the press. Media were notified on Wednesday that the former vice president would be campaigning in Lancaster the next day. Interested journalists were instructed to contact the campaign to inquire about obtaining a slot in the “pool” — the small band of journalists that are given more access to the candidate (the same pool process is used for covering the president, btw).

On Thursday, however, local newspaper reporters discovered that the Biden pool was comprised entirely of national news organizations, with the sole exceptions of two TV stations, one from Lancaster and the other from Pittsburgh. In other words, journalists who live and work in central Pa. were not allowed to watch as Biden met with families to discuss health care, or observe him while he delivered his speech.

An LNP editorial took the Biden campaign to task for the snub: “By shutting LNP | LancasterOnline out of an important community health discussion held here Thursday, the Biden campaign sent the wrong message about the importance of local newspaper journalism to the very communities it is trying to reach during the presidential campaign.”

Fracking and human health

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

FILE—In this file photo from March 12, 2020, work continues at a shale gas well drilling site in St. Mary’s, Pa. Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro released results on Thursday June 25, 2020, of a grand jury investigation into natural gas hydraulic fracturing. The fracking process has raised environmental concerns while turning the state into a major energy producer. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

The fracking revolution that made Pennsylvania a major natural gas producer over the past decade and a half also caused harm to many people, the result of weak oversight by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

That’s the big conclusion of a two-year grand jury investigation into the fracking industry made public Thursday by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Reid Frazier and Susan Phillips, reporting for StateImpact Pennsylvaniaproduced a thorough overview of the investigation’s conclusions.

Shapiro “conceded that much of the report relies on anecdotal evidence and said the industry will no doubt try to fight back,” TribLive reported. “They’re going to say … there’s no proof that any of this was really caused by fracking. They’ll roll out so-called experts that they’ve paid. They’ll hold up all the donations they’ve made to the community. They’ll say, ‘Where did this water really come from?’ They’re going to ask you when the pictures were really taken.”

Cue the industry response: “For anyone to suggest that we are not protecting our environment and public health while responsibly and safely producing clean and abundant American natural gas should better understand the facts and science,” said David Spigelmyer, the president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

The state DEP also wasn’t happy with the grand jury findings, writing: “Although the grand jury believed it was advancing the public good in preparing and planning to publicize its report, it actually does the public a disservice. To carelessly erode the citizens’ trust and confidence in their government threatens the foundation of our democratic society and should not be tolerated.”

But environmental organizations seized on the grand jury findings as confirmation of what they’ve been warning about for years. “For over a decade, the fracking industry has run roughshod over the people of Pennsylvania,” said Joseph Otis Minott, executive director of the Clean Air Council. “The grand jury’s report reveals the tragic consequences of our state government’s hands-off approach to fracking. The gas industry has destroyed too many lives and livelihoods.”

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