Donald Trump, a week before he will be face-to-face with Joe Biden during the first presidential debate, mocked him for wearing a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic and alleged the 77-year-old former vice president had plastic surgery on his face.
“What the hell did he spend all that money on the plastic surgery if he’s going to cover it up?" the 74-year-old Trump said during a campaign rally near Pittsburgh in battleground Pennsylvania.
The duo will square off in their first debate on 29 September in Cleveland, where they will take questions from Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. The president did one of his vocal polls, asking the Moon Township crowd if they think Mr Biden will wear a mask when he comes onstage next week. They cheered in the affirmative.
Then the showman Trump went off.
“It makes Joe feel good. Whatever makes you feel good,” Mr Trump said before asking about an alleged plastic surgery bill.
With a laugh, the president said of his general election foe whom he still trails nationally and in most key battleground states – even though he has cut into those leads in many swing states in recent weeks: “I think he’ll come in with a mask.”
“The question is: Will he leave it on during the debate?” a chuckling Trump added as the crowd joined with their own laughter.
About a half hour later, Mr Trump again said he thinks the former vice president should take a drug test before next week’s debate.
For his part, the much slimmer Mr Biden also has mocked his opponent’s physical looks.
Asked during a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper about the president’s “Slow Joe” nickname, Mr Biden laughed.
Mr Biden said he has laid out his entire health picture when he was vice president and when he launched his third bid for the White House
“Thank God I am in good health,” Mr Biden told CNN, though he acknowledged “anything can happen.”
But in a shot at the heavier president, he said: “Just look at us. … Who seems to be in shape? Who seems to be able to move around.”
On debates, Mr Biden said last week with a wide smile: “I’m lookin’ forward to it.”