He and his wife, Jill Biden, wearing black masks, laid a wreath of white flowers in a Memorial Day commemoration that had not been publicly announced before the trip. Mr. Biden, a practicing Catholic, made the sign of the cross.
“Thanks for your service,” Mr. Biden said, saluting a small group of veterans and other onlookers from a distance as he walked out.
Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee and former vice president, cut a sharp visual contrast with President Trump, who has generally declined to wear a mask in public despite federal health recommendations, a posture he maintained again on Monday.
Mr. Trump participated in two Memorial Day events, first attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. He did not wear a mask at the event.
A short time later, a maskless Mr. Trump traveled with the first lady, Melania Trump, to the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, where a stay-at-home order is still in effect to combat the spread of the virus. The mayor, Bernard C. Young, had urged the president to cancel the visit.
Mr. Trump still made the brief helicopter trip to the monument, where he spoke of the sacrifice of soldiers and described current service members as being “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus.”
Mrs. Trump and two senior officials traveling with Mr. Trump — the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and the national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien — also did not wear masks.
Supporters of Mr. Trump, many of whom had no masks, waved American flags and chanted “U.S.A., U.S.A.” as he arrived in Baltimore. Protesters urged the president to stay home.
On Monday, Mr. Biden, too, spoke about military sacrifice, a matter he often discusses in personal terms.
The Bidens’ elder son, Beau Biden, served in the Iraq war, and Mr. Biden frequently concludes speeches with the phrase, “May God protect our troops.” Beau Biden, the former attorney general of Delaware, died of brain cancer five years ago this week.
“Never forget the sacrifices that these men and women made,” Mr. Biden said on Monday, according to a pool report from his visit to Veterans Memorial Park at the Delaware Memorial Bridge in New Castle, Del. “Never, ever forget.”
Some Democrats, including some close allies, have grown impatient to see Mr. Biden publicly leave his Wilmington, Del., home and find ways to connect with voters, even in the era of social distancing. Since the pandemic hit, he has held virtual rallies and made news media appearances from his basement and elsewhere in his house, but some Democrats have worried that without public events, it is difficult to drive a proactive message. Mr. Trump has the bully pulpit of the presidency and Mr. Biden has at times struggled to break through.
“It feels good to be out of my house,” Mr. Biden said Monday, according to the pool report.
Asked whether his Memorial Day outing signaled the beginning of more public appearances, his campaign released a statement emphasizing the particular significance of Monday’s holiday during the crisis — “it’s more imperative than ever that we honor and remember the veterans, and their families, who sacrificed everything for this nation” — without addressing Mr. Biden’s future plans.
Mr. Biden, 77, and his campaign advisers have said they intend to abide by the public safety recommendations that have, so far, made rallies and other campaign events impossible. They and other allies have cited concerns for the health of everyone who might attend such an event — including the candidate — and have indicated that they want to serve as role models who respect the science behind the recommendations. To some Biden allies, it is another chance for an implicit contrast with Mr. Trump, 73, who has pushed for quick re-openings of, for example, houses of worship and has resisted wearing face masks.
Mr. Trump wore one during a visit to a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan last week, but took it off before talking to reporters to avoid being photographed wearing it.
The Biden campaign is looking for ways to drive a message of experience and a steady hand in a moment of crisis, though sometimes Mr. Biden knocks himself off message. He is holding more virtual events aimed at battleground states, and over the weekend, the campaign quickly seized on the news that Mr. Trump had gone golfing to create a video that attracted significant attention online.
“Nearly 100,000 Americans have died,” read text displayed on the video. “The death toll is still rising. The President is playing golf.”
Also Monday, the Bidens released a video to commemorate Memorial Day, a sign of the continuing virtual campaign and a far cry from the parades and in-person ceremonies often held throughout the country on the holiday.
“This year, Memorial Day feels a little different,” Mr. Biden said in the video. He told those who had lost loved ones in military service: “Thank you. We owe you. We can never lessen the magnitude of your loss. But this I can promise you: We will never forget.”
Mr. Trump, who delivered in-person remarks, said in Maryland: “Today, we honor the heroes we have lost. We pray for the loved ones they left behind. And with God as our witness, we renew our vow to love and protect and cherish this land they gave everything to defend.”
Johnny Diaz contributed reporting.
Source link Most Shared