Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Donald Trump should step down due to his coronavirus response during a town hall in Moosic, Pennsylvania. (REUTERS)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called Attorney General William Barr’s remarks equating mask-wearing to slavery “sick” and called on Donald Trump to “step down” over his coronavirus response during his first town hall of the general election.

“You lost your freedom” to go to baseball games or visit family members “because he didn’t act,” the former vice president said of the man who occupies the office he hopes is his come 20 January.

“This president should step down,” a visibly animated Mr Biden told one voter, adding that a commander in chief should “shoot from the shoulder” when addressing the American people about life-threatening crises.

“He continues to think that mask don’t matter that much,” Mr Biden said, criticising Mr Trump for holding large rallies with unmasked supporters and calling covering one’s face to prevent others from contracting the respiratory disease a “patriotic duty.”

“The idea that you’re not going to tell people what you’ve been told … what has he done?” the former VP asked, saying, citing an expert that the president would have saved over 30,000 lives if he had acted sooner. “What presidents say matters. … He knew about it.”

In a notable break from Mr Trump, who this week has shunned mask-wearing and dressed down Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield for telling senators masks are the most-effect thing right now to combat the virus, the vice president issued a warning about the coming drug.

“There’s no vaccine that’s 100 per cent” effective for everyone who takes it, he told a teacher who has a pre-existing condition and has worries about returning to the classroom.

Mr Biden appealed directly to working-class and suburban voters, saying he views the presidential race as “Scranton versus Park Avenue,” saying few people in his home town owned stock, something the wealthy president cannot understand. While the president contends Mr Biden wants to raise middle-class Americans’ taxes to the tune of $4trn, the former vice president said, if elected, he would make sure “the super-wealthy pay their fair share.”

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In a few weeks, Mr Biden and Mr Trump will square off in their first debate. Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about that first session, Mr Biden said with a wide grin: “I’m looking forward to it.”

On other topics, Mr Biden time and again broke with Mr Trump and talked up his own “Scranton roots,” portraying himself as a working-class guy who’s father “busted his neck” working blue-collar jobs.

“We are as good as anybody else,” he said, adding “people like Trump who inherited everything … and squandered it” cannot relate to working-class voters.



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