Joe Biden praised Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a virtual campaign rally Wednesday, May 20, streamed from the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee’s Delaware home.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin increased to 481 Wednesday, according to the state health department. The death toll would be higher if not for Evers’ “foresight and leadership,” the former vice president said.
Wisconsin made national headlines last week after the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by the Republican-controlled Legislature against the governor's extended Safer at Home order. The high court overturned the order May 13, opening up businesses across the state.
President Donald Trump celebrated the ruling the next morning on Twitter.
Biden went on to slam the federal government's pandemic response under Trump, criticizing delays in coronavirus testing and ensuring the supply of medical equipment early in the pandemic.
“The losses are staggering and it’s frustrating, but more than that it’s heartbreaking,” Biden said. “Think about how much pain could have been avoided if Trump had wasted less time and he moved quicker.”
Biden said as president he would transform the economy and rebuild the country’s middle class to better withstand a crisis through initiatives such as universal paid sick leave and access to affordable health care.
Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt issued a statement Wednesday calling Biden’s agenda too far left on the political spectrum.
“From Biden’s position on supporting the Green New Deal that would devastate Wisconsin farmers and manufacturers to his plans to launch a government takeover of health care that would force millions off their plans, Biden proves that he is out-of-touch with the people of Wisconsin,” Hitt said.
Around 2,400 people were watching the live stream when it started shortly after 4 p.m., roughly 30 minutes later than scheduled.
Biden was introduced by Wisconsin politicians and a business owner. Among them was Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who highlighted the importance of the Badger State in the November election.
“This is without a doubt the most important election of our lifetime,” Barrett said.
A Marquette University Law School poll shows a close general election race in Wisconsin, with Biden up 46% to Trump’s 43% among 811 registered voters surveyed May 3-7.
Hillary Clinton has faced backlash for not campaigning in Wisconsin during the 2016 election. She lost the state to Trump by more than 22,000 votes — the first time a Republican presidential candidate won Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the date a Twitter message reacting to the overturning of Safer at Home was posted to President Donald Trump's Twitter account.