Presumptive Dem presidential nominee Joe Biden today slammed President Trump’s response to COVID-19, saying it has been marked by “denials, delays, distraction, and bald-faced lies.”

Biden did a virtual round table this morning with La Crosse-area participants and a rally this afternoon with participants largely from the Milwaukee area. In both, he said the president’s response to the pandemic has fallen short. During the roundtable, he paid particular attention to rural issues, saying the president’s trade policies prior to the pandemic put farmers in a weakened position to deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Republicans knocked the former vice president for what they said was an “anemic campaign effort” in Wisconsin compared to President Trump’s state operation.

During what was billed as a Milwaukee rally, Biden accused Trump of three failures, including viewing the economy through the “single lens” of the stock market. Biden charged the president downplayed the seriousness of the virus to “protect the Dow Jones.”

He also knocked Trump for what he said was an economic strategy that focused on the wealthy and big corporations, singling out his efforts to help former Gov. Scott Walker persuade Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn to build a plant in southeastern Wisconsin. He accused the two of “handing over the keys of the store” to help Walker land the Foxconn deal, trading “billions in exchange for 13,000 jobs that never materialized.”

Republicans have defended the deal, noting the bulk of the tax incentives only kick in if the company hits various benchmarks in hiring and construction.

The third mistake, Biden said, was Trump promising to fight “for the forgotten man” and then forgetting them as soon as he got into office.

“Why would anybody trust this man to bring back our economy now?” Biden said while speaking from what appeared to be a screened-in porch with the sound of the breeze and birds in the background. “He thinks he’s a builder. But he’s a destroyer of everything he touches.”

Watch the Milwaukee video:

Biden kicked off his day of Wisconsin campaigning with a virtual roundtable that was hosted by U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse.

It included the president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, the Trempealeau County Economic Development director and the head of a community health center.

Biden noted Wisconsin lost 10 percent of its dairy farms in 2019, the largest drop since records began, and now leads the nation in farm bankruptcies.

Knocking Trump for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden said farmers were already facing a difficult environment because of what he called the president’s “disastrous” trade war.

He said farmers’ profits “vanished” due to the impact of Trump’s trade policies.

“How many families could use that money right now?” Biden said.

Hillary Clinton struggled in rural Wisconsin during her 2016 loss, and Dems have pledged to improve upon her numbers in the 2020 election. During the call, Biden said he’s committed to “restoring the promise of the middle class to rural America and rural Americans.”

“Rural communities power our nation. They feed our bodies. They feed our engines. They’re the steward that protects our lands, and we cannot sustain an economy that exacts a value from them without sharing the reward,” Biden said.

Mari Freiberg, the CEO and executive director of Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center, told Biden rural communities have struggled to find needed personal protective equipment and testing supplies amid the pandemic. She also knocked the president’s stewardship of the fight against the disease, saying there still isn’t a comprehensive national plan for testing three months into the outbreak.

“It feels like unforced errors, and it’s preventable, and that’s tragic,” she said.

State GOP Chair Andrew Hitt told reporters on a conference call the state party has “the biggest effort we’ve ever had” on the ground, with 60 full-time staffers throughout Wisconsin.

He said he believes Trump’s field effort will be nearly double what Biden will bring to the state.

“Can you imagine if we would’ve just brought our state director on in February and just started hiring?” Hitt told reporters this morning in a teleconference. “We’d be shut down and nowhere. But you don’t have to imagine it because that’s where Joe Biden is.”

Former Gov. Scott Walker added Kind has a “big problem” in his district with his voting record in favor of Trump’s impeachment.

Trump won Kind’s western Wisconsin district by 4.5 percentage points in 2016 as the La Crosse Dem went unopposed for reelection. In 2018, he won his 12th term with 59.7 percent of the vote and had more than $3.1 million in the bank at the end of the third quarter.

None of the Republicans currently vying for the GOP nomination to take on Kind had cracked $50,000 in fundraising through the end of the first quarter.

“Part of the reason (Trump) won the state of Wisconsin was he won the third Congressional district in 2016 and we feel confident he can do it again,” Walker said before touting his endorsement for Derrick Van Orden, one of the Republicans vying to challenge Kind this fall.

Walker also pressed Biden to release his records now at the University of Delaware as Republicans continued to pressure Kind and other Dems over the assault allegation Tara Reade has lobbed at the former vice president.

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