Barack Obama mocks Donald Trump's tweets on conspiracy theories and his handling of the virus

Ben Riley-Smith
·6 min read
Barack Obama addresses Biden-Harris supporters during a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - AFP
Barack Obama addresses Biden-Harris supporters during a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - AFP

Barack Obama unleashed a fierce attack on Donald Trump during his first in-person appearance on the campaign trail, mocking the US president's tweeting of conspiracy theories, and dismissing his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former president used a speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to repeatedly hammer his successor’s record in office with less than two weeks left before election day in America.

Many of Mr Obama’s critiques, delivered at a drive-in rally in front of 300 cars, centred on Mr Trump’s approach to coronavirus, the issue the Democrats are putting at the centre of their campaign to elect Joe Biden.  Many beeped their horns in approval.

“Donald Trump isn't suddenly going to protect all of us. He can't even take the basic steps to protect himself,” Mr Obama said.

He added that his own administration “literally left the White House a pandemic play book” but “they probably used it to, I don't know, prop up a wobbly table somewhere."

Mr Obama added: "Joe's not going to screw up tests. He's not going to call scientists idiots. He's not going to hold a super-spreader event at the White House."

There were also swipes at Mr Trump’s character and actions in office.

Mr Obama mocked Mr Trump’s sharing of what he said were conspiracy theories on Twitter, such as that "secret cabals are running the world or that the Navy Seals didn't kill [Osama] Bin Laden”.

He said: "Think about that. The president of the United States actually retweeted that. What? What??!"

The former president went on: "We wouldn't tolerate it from a high school principal. We wouldn't tolerate it from a coach. We wouldn't tolerate it from a co-worker, we wouldn’t tolerate it, you know, in our family, except for maybe crazy uncle somewhere.

"Why would we expect and accept this from the President of the US? And why are folks making excuses for that? 'Oh, well that’s just, that's just him.' No, it’s, no! There are consequences to these actions.

"They embolden other people to be cruel and divisive and racist. And it frays the fabric of our society. And it affects how our children see things. And it affects the ways that our families get along. It affects how the world looks at America. That behaviour matters. Character matters.”

Mr Obama also mocked the president, saying: "Even his TV ratings are down so you know that upsets him.

"This is not a reality show this is reality. The rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him not taking the job seriously. Our proud reputation around the world is in tatters.

"The only people truly better of than four years ago are the billionaires who got his tax cuts.

"And he's been doing alright by himself. We know he continues to do business with China because he's got a secret Chinese bank account. How is that possible?

"Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election. You think Fox News would have been a little concerned about that? They'd have called me 'Beijing Barry'."

Mr Obama attacked his successor over recent claims he paid only $750 in federal income tax in his first year in the White House.

"My first job was in a Baskin Robbins when I was 15," said Mr Obama. "I think I might have paid more taxes that year dispensing ice cream. How is that possible?"

Mr Obama went on: "This pandemic would have been challenging for any president but the idea this White House has done anything but screw this up is not credible."

He said: "Joe Biden would never call the men and women in our military suckers or losers. Who does that? He knows these heroes are somebody's children, somebody's spouse, Dad or Mom.

"With Joe and Kamala Harris at the helm you're not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day and that's worth a lot. It just won't be so exhausting. You might be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner without having an argument."

He added: "People who are supposed to be our leaders lie every day and just make things up. I mean, we've just become numb to it, immune to it, every single day."

He said Democrats could not be "complacent" and "cannot leave any doubt in this election. The president's already said if its even close 'I'm gonna make stuff up'. "America is a good and decent place. Philadelphia, I'm asking you to remember what this country can be.

"Believe in Joe's ability and Kamala's ability to lead this country out of these dark times. We got to vote like never before and leave no doubt. What is best in us is still there. Let's get to work. lets bring this home."

The pair will have a final head-to-head on Thursday night - AP
The pair will have a final head-to-head on Thursday night - AP

On Thursday night, Mr Biden and Mr Trump will meet for the campaign's second and final head-to-head debate. The meeting will take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The clash is the biggest remaining set piece in the campaign and gives Mr Trump a late chance to change the dynamics of the race, given tens of millions of Americans are expected to watch.

Polls have the president trailing Mr Biden by around 9 per cent nationwide, according to a tracker from the website Real Clear Politics, and down in key battleground states.

However pundits have cautioned against presuming the sizable poll lead means Mr Biden is certain to win, noting Mr Trump’s win in 2016 despite a poll deficit and changes to the voting process due to the pandemic having an unknown impact.

All eyes are on whether Mr Trump will change the combative approach he adopted in the first debate, which saw him repeatedly interrupt Mr Biden.

In the days after the clash Mr Biden pulled even further ahead in nationwide polls, even as the president claimed he won the debate.