Biden goes after Trump’s coronavirus response during virtual Wisconsin campaign stops

MILWAUKEE — Former Vice President Joe Biden visited Wisconsin computer screens on Wednesday.

The presumptive Democratic nominee continued his virtual campaign with two “stops” in the state, one as a rally “in Milwaukee” and another as a round table discussion on rural issues with Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse.

Biden and Kind were joined by people representing rural agriculture, business and healthcare during the round table, talking about problems they face both during and before the coronavirus pandemic.

Mari Freiberg, the CEO at Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center, told Biden about their efforts to increase testing and telehealth access, the latter she said depends on good internet access.

“When you’re in lots of rural communities, it still doesn’t exist,” Freiberg said. “So funding for broadband, support for building out that infrastructure is critical to continued growth of telemedicine services, so anything you can do to continue the support for broadband building out is hugely important.”

Biden said he is supportive of getting that infrastructure, saying it takes investment and execution. He tied this back to his criticism of President Donald Trump and his response to the coronavirus.

“We’re at war,” Biden said. “We’re at war with the virus. We need a commander-in-chief who can garner the resources and distribute the resources in ways that everyone can get them.”

Rob Grover, the economic development director for Trempealeau County, talked about how businesses in his county are struggling to get small business administration loans and feel like they are being left behind in favor of those with connections.

“Rural business owners, rural business people, rural people in general, when times are tough we make things work,” Grover said. “And it sure feels like right now from the federal government, rural Wisconsin isn’t getting a fair shake. Rural America’s not getting a fair shake.”

Biden said this is the fault of the current administration, saying he wants to focus half the SBA loans on businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

He also said there should have been better leadership on unemployment insurance.

“It’s not getting out there,” Biden said. “The reason it’s not getting out there is the federal government did not help prepare states that were going to be overwhelmed, overwhelmed as they have been with all these claims, over 30 something million claims.”

Biden’s comments and campaigning come after multiple visits by members of the Trump administration, including a rally with the president in early January and two stops in Madison for Vice President Mike Pence.

The pair also had a familiar voice in their corner on Wednesday in a Trump campaign press call with former Gov. Scott Walker, who criticized Biden on his plan to combat climate change and his not releasing records tied to an allegation that he sexually assaulted a staff member in 1993.

“Obviously Joe Biden said, proclaimed his innocence,” Walker said. “But I think it’s critically important in light of what Congressman Kind said that to remember Joe Biden still refuses to allow anyone access to his senate files at the University of Delaware. That would include records about these allegations.”

The latest Marquette Law School poll showed Biden and Trump near even in support among respondents.