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Biden highlights middle class economic pain in town Hall

Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall event on Sept. 17, 2020 in Moosic, Pennsylvania.
Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall event on Sept. 17, 2020 in Moosic, Pennsylvania.Drew Angerer/Getty

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden highlighted the financial pain he said middle-class Americans are facing due to the economic crisis and the coronavirus at a drive-in televised town hall, one of the few chances he has had to interact with voters in person.

Biden repeatedly contrasted his middle-class roots with Trump’s family wealth, saying his life experience means he understands Americans’ fears.

“I really do view this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue,” Biden told the group gathered for the CNN event.

Later, he described his education at the state University of Delaware.

“Maybe it’s my Scranton roots, I don’t know. But when you guys started talking on about Biden, he’ll be the first person without an Ivy league degree. I said, ‘Who the hell makes you think I need an Ivy League degree to be president?’”

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Trump went to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

He said President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus were designed only to boost stocks and corporations, rather than front-line workers and families.

“It was all about making sure the stock market didn’t come down, that his wealthy friends didn’t lose any money,” Biden said of Trump. “He waved a white flag. He walked away, he didn’t do a damn thing. Think about it. Think about what he did not do. And it’s almost criminal.”

Biden, who was born in Scranton, often refers to his hometown as a force that shaped his beliefs on the economy and the middle class.

Biden also criticized Trump’s comments suggesting the he might contest the outcome of the November election.

As president, Biden said, “I would not try to throw into question the legitimacy of the election like the president and the people around him have done.”

He added: “If the president had even remote confidence that he was likely to win the election he wouldn’t be doing this.”

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Biden said, if elected, he would encourage states to change their rules so early and mail-in ballots are counted before Election Day to help avoid delays in results.

“I would get states to agree to open ballots before the actual deadline,” he said. “I would make sure there were as many poll workers as possible.”

Adapting to the realities of the coronavirus pandemic, the town hall was held outdoors in a baseball stadium parking lot with a limited number of people allowed to watch from their cars.

Throngs of Biden and Trump supporters lined the street leading to the stadium, chanting and booing as the former vice president’s motorcade drove by.

The town hall comes just days after Trump participated in an ABC town hall in Philadelphia. Trump is holding a rally in Wisconsin on Thursday night. Both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are crucial states to either candidate’s chances of winning the White House.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.