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Trump, Biden highlight contrasting views on U.S. coronavirus response

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LANCASTER, Pa. — Both U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are swinging through key battleground states on Thursday, presenting dueling events that haven’t happened much in the age of coronavirus and showcasing their contrasting styles in response to the pandemic.

The former vice president wore a black face mask as he sat in an outdoor community center courtyard with three mothers and two children who told of benefiting from the Obama administration’s signature health care law in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Beyond the police cordon, a small group of Trump supporters nearby could be heard chanting “four more years” and “USA.”

“I’m supposedly an expert in foreign policy,” Biden said of his lengthy career in the Senate and as vice president. “Well, health care is more complicated than foreign policy. It really is.”

He said that he’s worried the Supreme Court may eventually side with a challenge of the health care law and that overturning it in the middle of a pandemic “just seems to me to be close to cruel. Yeah, well, it is unconscionable.”

Biden was giving a speech later on how he would improve broader access to health insurance. He has spent weeks arguing that the pandemic remains a clear and present danger that Trump is trying to wish away amid a desire to jump-start a crippled economy.

The president is visiting Marinette in rural Wisconsin for a private tour of a shipyard and participating in a town hall to be broadcast by Fox News Channel from an airport in Green Bay. Vice President Mike Pence is also traveling in another potential swing state, Ohio.

Biden is planning to use his latest speech to argue that Trump’s opposition to the health care law, coupled with a response to the pandemic that he calls inadequate, ensures that even people who contract the coronavirus and survive will “live their lives caught in a vise between Donald Trump’s twin legacies.”

Those are “his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus and his heartless crusade to take health care protections away from American families,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will say in his speech, according to excerpts released by his campaign.

Biden also plans to scoff at Trump’s comment that more testing for the virus is “a double-edged sword.”

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“Testing unequivocally saves lives, and widespread testing is the key to opening up our economy again — so that’s one edge of the sword,” Biden will say. “The other edge: that he thinks finding out that more Americans are sick will make him look bad. And that’s what he’s worried about. He’s worried about looking bad.”

That’s a reference to Trump saying on Saturday that he’d instructed aides to “slow down testing” because more screening was turning up too many positive tests. The White House first said Trump was joking, but the president later insisted that he was not.

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