GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden travelled to the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the US Civil War on Tuesday (Oct 6), promising to put politics aside and try to heal the country’s widening racial, political and economic divisions.
Biden did not invoke the name of President Donald Trump, his rival in the November election, but said the country was experiencing “total unrelenting partisan warfare” that had made it hard to tackle the coronavirus that has killed 210,000 people in the United States and cost millions more their jobs.
“Let’s set the partisanship aside. Let’s end the politics. Let’s follow the science. Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation,” Biden said, alluding to Trump’s repeated refusal to wear a mask for safety even after he contracted the virus.
“What we need in America is leadership that seeks to deescalate tensions, to open lines of communication, and to bring us together,” he said. “As president, that is precisely what I will do.”
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Biden picked a dramatic spot for the speech, delivering it near the Gettysburg battlefield where the Union army pushed back advancing Confederate soldiers in 1863, a turning point in the Civil War.
It was also where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic Gettysburg Address, citing the US Declaration of Independence that proclaimed all people are created equal, a speech Biden made reference to repeatedly.
He also referenced Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and abolitionist leader who once told Lincoln that his second inaugural address decrying slavery and calling for national unity in the late stages of the Civil War had been “a sacred effort”.
“We have to be dedicated to our own sacred effort,” Biden said. “Let us conduct ourselves as Americans who love each other – who love our country and who will not destroy, but will build.”
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National opinion polls show Biden with a consistent lead on Trump ahead of the Nov 3 Election Day, although the lead has been narrower in some crucial battleground states.
In Pennsylvania, which Trump narrowly won over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken Sep 29-Oct 5 showed Biden with a 5 percentage point lead on Trump, matching the poll’s credibility interval.
Earlier, Biden participated in a virtual fundraiser from Delaware that included US Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the influential Black lawmaker who helped revive his flagging presidential campaign with an endorsement in the state’s primary.