President Trump — who hamstrung the White House coronavirus task force, peddled dubious Covid-19 cures and publicly downplayed the threat of the disease — accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday of leaning too heavily on the scientific community for setting pandemic policy.
“He will surrender your future to the virus,” Mr. Trump said at his rally in Carson City, Nev. “He’s going to lock down, this guy wants to lock down.”
Mr. Trump went into a brief imitation of a grave, serious person: “‘He’ll listen to the scientists,’” he said witheringly. Then he added: “If I listened totally to the scientists we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression instead of — we’re like a rocket ship, take a look at the numbers,” apparently referencing a modest rebound in employment that has already begun to fade.
Hours earlier, at a campaign event in Durham, N.C., Mr. Biden mocked the president for claiming that a cure was right around the corner.
“As my grandfather would say, this guy’s gone around the bend if he thinks we’ve turned the corner,” Mr. Biden said. “Turn the corner? Things are getting worse.” Virus cases are up 30 percent nationwide over the last two weeks, as the country surges toward a third peak in the outbreak.
Mr. Biden has said he would follow the guidance of scientific advisers on which measures to implement to battle the pandemic, which has killed almost 220,000 people in the United States. Mr. Trump’s lurching and contradictory response to the virus has not only damaged his re-election chances, but hampered the economic recovery, experts say.
In his Nevada speech, Mr. Trump went on to criticize Democratic governors for imposing mandatory lockdowns, along with other measures seen by scientists as essential for arresting the spread of the virus in order to hasten the reopening of the economy and schools.
“This is tellingly out of touch and the polar opposite of reality,” a Biden campaign spokesman, Andrew Bates, said in response to the president’s comment. “Trump crashed the strong economy he inherited from the Obama-Biden Administration by lying about and attacking the science, and layoffs are rising.”