Campaigning amid COVID: Joe Biden hosts roundtable, rally in Wisconsin from 800 miles away

MILWAUKEE -- Former Vice President Joe Biden hosted two campaign events in Wisconsin Wednesday, May 20 -- a virtual roundtable on rural issues in La Crosse, and a virtual rally in Milwaukee -- but the presumptive nominee was more than 800 miles away, campaigning in the COVID-19 era in a battle to win the key swing state.

President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by less than 23,000 votes, and Hillary Clinton didn't visit the Badger State during the general campaign.

Democrats picked Milwaukee to host their 2020 convention, and on Wednesday, Biden hosted two different virtual events in Wisconsin, a roundtable and a rally.

The crowds stayed home, as Biden spoke from his home state of Delaware, but his message was about trying to win this crucial battleground state.

"We know that the path to the White House runs directly through the state of Wisconsin," said Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, who introduced Biden Wednesday. "We know that the next president of the United States of America will have to win Wisconsin."

At the rally, Biden hammered President Donald Trump on the coronavirus.

"We are at war with a virus," said Biden. "It's heartbreaking to think about how much pain could have been avoided if Trump had wasted less time, and he moved quicker..

Biden added that, "A lot of this could have been prevented. A lot of it could have been prevented. COVID-19 is not his fault. The failure to respond quickly is a big problem. It's called lack of leadership."

Former Governor Scott Walker said President Trump is leading.

"We saw an incredible turnaround in the economy that the president helped continue that we started eight years ago with Republican leadership, and we know this president has the capacity to, as he's already shown on the national economy before, to continue to do it again -- get us on the right track," said former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Biden and Walker each weighed in Wednesday on delays in unemployment benefits amid COVID-19.

"The federal government did not help prepare states who are going to be overwhelmed," said Biden.

"You have thousands of public employees at the state level who are sitting idly at home collecting a paycheck," said Walker. "It's within the governor's power to reassign those individuals, and he should have been doing it. I've been calling for it for weeks."

Walker also brought up Tara Reade's allegations against Biden that he assaulted her in a Senate hallway 27 years ago. Biden, who served in the Senate 36 years before two terms as vice president, said he does not recall Reade at all. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found 28% believed Biden's denials, and 28% believed Reade.

The Marquette University Law School poll released on May 12 found Biden ahead of President Trump 46% to 43%, which is within the margin of error.