With less than five months until the general election, more and more of the rural and small-town Pennsylvanians who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 are turning away from the President and towards former Vice President Joe Biden. Recent polling shows Vice President Biden with a commanding, 10-point lead in Pennsylvania. Voters in Pennsylvania appear to be done with President Trump’s chaotic, weak, and divisive leadership, and are responding positively to Joe Biden’s life experience and dignified record in public service.

A native of Scranton, PA, Vice President Biden has been a public servant all his life, starting off as a public defender, and later serving as a Congressman and United States Senator, where he was dubbed one of the “the poorest men in Congress.” Biden’s upbringing directly contrasts President Trump’s. Joe Biden grew up middle class in Pennsylvania, but Trump earned a $200,000 allowance from age 3 and was a millionaire by age 8, going on to pocket an additional $1 million per year after graduating college from his father. He also inherited a multi-million dollar golden parachute from his father to start his many real estate projects and other ventures that frequently went bankrupt.

Recently, Vice President Biden visited Lancaster, PA and met with families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care bill that Vice President Biden helped sign into law in 2010, which extended affordable health care coverage to over 23 million Americans. In Pennsylvania alone, the uninsured rate decreased by 42%.

After trying and failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017 through Congress, the Trump Administration is currently in court suing to dismantle the entire law. If the lawsuit is successful, more than 850,000 Pennsylvania residents alone would be stripped of their current health coverage. In addition, over 5.3 million Pennsylvanians with preexisting conditions would see a spike in their premium costs.

What’s more, the president is attempting to strip away the Affordable Care Act amidst a global pandemic. As of June 24, Pennsylvania has over 83,000 recorded coronavirus cases and over 6,000 deaths due to complications from the virus. Thousands of Pennsylvanians rely on their health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act in order to offset the medical costs due to coronavirus.

“Most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19 could become a new pre-existing condition,” Vice President Biden said in Lancaster on Thursday.

Amidst Trump’s lack of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania’s economy has taken a nosedive as well. As of May, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate rests at 13.1% with over 849,000 Pennsylvania workers out of a job – likely one of the highest figures in the state’s history.

The public health crisis and economic downturn in Pennsylvania and across the country can be directly linked to President Trump’s unwillingness to address coronavirus when he was warned about it. In January, Trump was briefed by intelligence officials on the potential threat of coronavirus spreading rapidly within U.S. borders, and instead of taking immediate action to prevent the potential pandemic, the president continued to deny its very existence until mid-March — leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths and an avoidable economic catastrophe.

According to experts, at least 54,000 deaths could have been avoided, and state economies, like Pennsylvania’s, could have opened earlier had President Trump acted quickly to contain the coronavirus. Recently, President Trump blatantly stated he wanted to slow down testing so fewer positive results would  be shown to the public. If he were successful in halting testing efforts, it would lead to a spike in unknown cases in Pennsylvania and contribute to a rampant, undetected spread of the virus across the country.

All the while, American hospitals and medical workers are still facing an extreme shortage of masks and critical protective supplies to fight back against the virus. Yet in February, at the same time Trump was downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus, the Trump Administration sent 17.8 tons of medical supplies – including masks and respirators – to China.

As thousands of Pennsylvanians continue to grapple with the loss of family members and friends or emptied pocketbooks due to the fallout, President Trump is claiming his administration did “too good” a job on handling COVID-19. In total, job losses under Trump’s leadership during the pandemic will far exceed those during the 2008 financial crisis – a crisis that particularly affected Pennsylvania .

After the financial crash of 2008, Vice President Biden was put in charge of leading the American recovery by President Obama, where he pushed for the passage of the Recovery Act, which paved the way for a decade of economic growth following the Great Recession.

In November, Pennsylvanians will go to the ballot box with a clear and distinct choice between Vice President Biden’s humble upbringings and public service record, and President Trump’s chaotic and now fatal leadership.

Contact Chai Karve at ckarve@americanbridge.org