Claim: Photo of small Biden campaign event shows Trump is the more popular candidate
While President Donald Trump faces national backlash for downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, his rival receives criticism for doing the opposite. Some Trump supporters are using a photo of a small Joe Biden campaign event to question if his low turnout means Trump is the more popular presidential candidate.
“Another HUGE Biden rally,” Robin Masters IV posted alongside a photo of the former vice president speaking with a small group of potential voters in a backyard.
While some Facebook users criticized the landscaping, others speculated that the low turnout out revealed Biden was unpopular.
"(B)ut Biden is ahead in the polls...." one user commented and others responded with laughing emojis.
Masters has not responded to USA TODAY's request for comment.
It was a small campaign event, not a rally
The photo captures Biden’s Sept. 9 campaign event with Detroit steelworkers.
State Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, hosted Biden and four steelworkers in his backyard for the gathering.
While wearing masks and sitting in distanced patio chairs, Biden and the workers discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their families and coworkers. Also, Biden explained his plans to financially penalize companies that export jobs overseas.
“It just drives me crazy that the county is going to hell in a hand basket economically and politically and in terms of our health, and we’re doing nothing about it," Biden said during the event. "We’re not doing a thing about it. But there's answers to these things.”
Biden’s socially distant campaign tactics
Small campaign events like this starkly contrast Trumps’ famous arena rallies — or even his recent outdoor events.
Just weeks before, Trump faced criticism for hosting more than a thousand guests on the White House lawn for the Republican National Convention. Masks were not required and CDC recommended social distancing guidelines were not followed.
The discrepancy in supporter turnout at Biden's and Trump’s campaign events is not a indicator of popularity, but rather the candidates’ opposing approaches to campaigning during a pandemic.
Health officials like National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins have expressed disapproval of Trump’s continued campaign rallies over the last several months.
"As a scientist, I'm pretty puzzled and rather disheartened," Collins said at a Sept. 10 CNN town hall.
The Trump campaign has hosted some outside events, conducted temperature checks and distributed masks, although attendees are not required to wear them.
On Sept. 13. Trump's campaign hosted its first entirely indoor rally since its June rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak criticized Trump for endangering supporters in his state. While in Nevada, Trump mocked the Biden campaign's small events and social distancing practices.
"You know why he puts the circles? Because he wants to be like correct with COVID, but it's not really — because they can't get anybody to fill up a room," he said.
The Biden-Harris campaign has largely practiced socially distanced campaigning, hosting small outdoor events and wearing masks.
"Joe Biden is working to earn every vote with a groundbreaking campaign that meets this moment. And he's doing it in the way he would govern: by putting the well-being of the American families he'd fight for every day in office first — as opposed to Donald Trump, who's holding divisive, vain super spreader events at the expense of communities hungering to overcome the pandemic that he continues to make immeasurably worse than it needs to be," Biden's Director of Rapid Response Andrew Bates told USA TODAY.
Donald Trump knew coronavirus was deadly, yet he still brought thousands of people together for his rallies—and wasn’t concerned about whether they were wearing masks or socially distanced. https://t.co/Wilg6O1bnq
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 18, 2020
In a Sept. 18 tweet, Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, criticized Trump for continuing to hold rallies and defying public health guidelines throughout the pandemic.
"Every place I go I’ve got to set an example," Biden said Sept. 10. "That’s why, everywhere I go, I wear this mask, and, everywhere I go, I keep my social distance."
Our rating: Missing context
We rate the claim that photos of Biden's small campaign events show a low-turnout rally as MISSING CONTEXT. Biden is hosting smaller campaign events than Trump, but it has significantly more to do with his adherence to social distancing guidelines rather than his lack of popularity.
Our fact check sources:
The Detroit News, Sep. 9, "Joe Biden in Detroit: Under Trump, U.S. going to 'hell in a hand basket economically'"
NBC, Sept. 13, "President Trump visits Nevada, hosts indoor campaign event"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact Check: Joe Biden's events are smaller because of COVID-19