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Campaigning in Florida, Obama says Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage"

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Washington — Former President Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail Tuesday to drum up support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, urging voters in the crucial battleground state of Florida to support his former vice president and casting President Trump as an attention-seeker who has turned the White House into a coronavirus hot-spot.

Mr. Obama held a drive-in rally in Orlando, during which he urged Florida voters to come up with a plan to cast their ballots early. Early voting in the Sunshine State began October 24 and lasts until October 31.

"This election requires every single one of us, and what we do this week will matter for decades to come," Mr. Obama said amid honks from supporters in attendance.

The former president chastised Mr. Trump for failing to take the presidency seriously and lamented that the American people have "had to live with the consequences." Painting the president as media hungry, Mr. Obama joked that Mr. Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage" and failed to even prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the White House, a reference to the positive cases of COVID-19 first among West Wing staff and now five close aides to Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Trump himself tested positive for the coronavirus this month and spent three days in the hospital receiving treatment for the virus.

"I lived in the White House for awhile," Mr. Obama said. "You know, it's a controlled environment. You can take some preventive measures in the White House to avoid getting sick. Except this guy can't seem to do it. He's turned the White House into a hot zone."

Barack Obama
Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally as he campaigns for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, in Orlando, Florida. John Raoux / AP

The current president, Mr. Obama said, "hasn't shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends or treating the presidency as anything more than a reality show that can give him the attention that he craves."

"The presidency doesn't change who you are. It reveals who you are," Mr. Obama said. "And Joe time and time again has shown himself to be a man of principle and character, and he's going to be a great president."

Citing Mr. Trump's penchant for tweeting — and sometimes responding on Twitter to television segments — Mr. Obama accused the president of failing to prioritize improving the lives of the American people.

"Tweeting at the TV doesn't fix things. Watching TV all day doesn't fix things. Making stuff up doesn't fix things," the 44th president said. "You've got to have a plan if you want to make people's lives better. You've got to put in the work if you want to make people's lives better."

Mr. Obama said that if Biden and Harris are elected, the American people would not have to worry about their tweets and conduct.

"We've gotten so numb to what is bizarre behavior," he said of Mr. Trump. "We have a president right now who lies multiple times a day."

Mr. Obama criticized the president for promoting conspiracy theories on Twitter, telling the crowd that "even Florida man wouldn't be doing some of this stuff. Why would we accept it from the president of the United States?"

"When people see the president doing things like that, it emboldens other people to be mean and cruel and divisive and racist," he said. "And it frays the fabric of our lives. It affects the way our children see things."

Mr. Trump appeared to be tuning into his predecessor's speech, taking to Twitter as if on cue to respond and defend the amount he has paid in federal income taxes.

"Now @FoxNews is playing Obama's no crowd, fake speech for Biden, a man he could barely endorse because he couldn't believe he won. Also, I PREPAID many Millions of Dollars in Taxes," the president tweeted.

Biden holds a two-point lead over Mr. Trump among likely voters in Florida, according to a CBS News Battleground Tracker poll released Sunday, with 50% of likely voters in the state favoring the former vice president and 48% backing Mr. Trump.

Mr. Obama hit the campaign trail for his first in-person event last week, stumping for Biden and Harris at a drive-in rally in Pennsylvania. During his remarks, the former president lambasted Mr. Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic and racial unrest. A victory for Mr. Trump could hinge on Pennsylvania, where Biden is up seven points. Mr. Obama also spoke in support of his former vice president and his running mate at a drive-in rally in Miami on Saturday.

The election is now just seven days away, and both candidates are hitting the road to make their closing pitch to voters. Biden will spend Tuesday in Georgia, delivering remarks in Warm Springs and participating in a drive-in event in Atlanta, where he will urge Americans to make a plan to vote.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, is holding three rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

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