YEADON, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will highlight his plan to safely reopen a U.S. economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday on his third visit this month to the must-win election battleground state of Pennsylvania.
The former vice president met business owners struggling to weather the pandemic in a Philadelphia suburb, and later will deliver a speech suggesting that Republican President Donald Trump “has no plan besides hanging an ‘open for business’ sign,” according to a campaign aide.
Biden’s proposal for reopening the economy includes expanded coronavirus testing and protective equipment for people who go back to work, as well as paid sick leave, small-business grants and hiring a workforce to chart the disease’s spread.
Nationally, Biden now has his widest lead over Trump in the race, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll on Wednesday, showing the Democrat with a 13-percentage-point lead.
Still, 43% percent of registered voters said they thought Trump would be a better steward of the economy than Biden, against 38% who said Biden would be better. A quick recovery from a deep recession caused by coronavirus-related shutdowns could further bolster Trump’s argument that he should be re-elected on Nov. 3.
Trump won Pennsylvania by less than a percentage point in 2016, an unexpected victory along with wins in Wisconsin and Michigan that propelled him to the presidency.
An economic recovery appears to be underway. Commerce Department data on Tuesday showed U.S. retail sales rising by 17.7% last month, the most on record, after two straight months of sharp declines. That rebound is threatened by signs that certain regions, including Florida, Arizona and Oklahoma, are seeing a resurgence of the virus.
A spokesman for Trump’s campaign, Ken Farnaso, said, “Americans already know they are in the midst of the Great American Comeback.”
“President Trump’s proven track record of success shows that he is the man needed to meet this moment and usher in yet another economic renaissance,” Farnaso said.
Trump is preparing for his first rally since the coronavirus forced people to stay at home three months ago. The event takes place on Saturday in heavily Republican Oklahoma and comes as the president touts his stimulus as helping to revive the economy.
Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Pennsylvania and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; editing by Soyoung Kim, Jonathan Oatis and Sonya Hepinstall