The events of Wednesday, October 28, tell us everything we need to know about the contrasting campaigning styles of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and where this presidential race will lead over the next four days.
On Wednesday, the Democratic Party candidate hid in his bunker in Delaware, where he spent most of the last six months. Biden had not planned any major events. Instead, he had only light duties to perform. He gave a press conference, and to my knowledge that was his only public appearance. Everyone needs a day off, and at 77 years of age, one could perhaps forgive Biden for wanting to take it a little easier. But if his press conference had been a lively, sparkling, fascinating affair, it might have given the voters something to think about. The reality, however, was that she was profoundly pessimistic. The thrust of his speech referred to COVID-19 and death.
Granted, Biden has suffered personal tragedies over the past 50 years that have undoubtedly shaped his view of the issues of life and death, but voters expect leaders to lift them up and not bring them down. I know that to date 229,000 people in America have sadly died with or as a result of COVID-19, but focusing on that fact did not seem to me to be the uplifting message that men and women need to hear if they are to be encouraged to go to the polls by next Tuesday.
Besides, there are those, especially older citizens, who live in fear of the virus. If the pollsters are to be believed, Biden is making some progress among Trump voters of retirement age. He has repeatedly accused Trump and his administration of being ruthless when it comes to COVID-19, and has claimed that America would be much more careful in dealing with the pandemic under a Biden administration. He is peddling fear and appealing to voters who would like to spend the next 6 to 12 months at home. Would he be so cynical and calculating?
While Biden spent a quiet day in Delaware, Trump appeared at two major rallies in Arizona. I was fortunate enough to attend one of them, in the city of Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix. I can confirm that the president was in top form. His energy was palpable, and for a man diagnosed with COVID-19 just four weeks ago, he looked remarkably healthy. He lost weight and seemed sharper for it. As Air Force One was about to land, refreshing rock music sounded over the sound system. Then Trump walked across the catwalk and clearly revelled in the situation.
To my surprise and delight, he asked me to join him on stage and say a few words of support. That was easy for me, because Trump radiated optimism and his message was clear: Next year, he said, will be the best ever for the USA. I believe that this is the kind of thing that people want to hear. This week’s figures, which show that the US economy grew 33 percent in the last quarter, are really overwhelming and confirm Trump’s optimistic tone in many ways. I wonder a little bit if his apparent certainty that a vaccine against COVID-19 is imminent is not misplaced. Personally, I am a little skeptical about this. But what he says about medical treatments like Remdesivir and the drugs developed by the company Regeneron is true. It is clear that the prospects for people who are now suffering from this disease are better than six months ago.
As for COVID-19, Trump believes that if he wins next week, American families can look forward to a return to normality. I’m beginning to believe that after more than six months of rules, restrictions, and a host of lockdowns, people are tired of it all and desperate to move on. France has just imposed a new nationwide lockdown for five weeks, and there has been a mass exodus from Paris. The French capital is now deserted. Germany, too, has introduced a new lockdown, which comes into effect next week. These measures will put a strain on the economies of both countries and make the population feel angry, isolated and helpless. Darkness has once again fallen in Europe.
Donald Trump believes that treatment in a lockdown can be worse than the disease. He is absolutely right, and I sense that this view is shared by most people. We will find out in the early hours of Wednesday morning whether hope trumps fear.
Nigel Farage is editor-in-chief and editor-in-chief of the Newsday platform “The Debate” in Washington.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author….