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Alex Wong / Getty ImagesBy JOHN VERHOVEK and MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News

(CLEVELAND) – Former Vice President Joe Biden called President Donald Trump’s combative debate performance in Cleveland, Ohio last night a “national embarrassment,” on the first leg of his train tour to across the Midwest Wednesday.

“The President of the United States behaved the way he did, I think it was just a national embarrassment. But listen, I just hope the American people, these undecided voters, try to determine [if] each of us has an answer to our concerns and allows us to speak, ”Biden told reporters outside an Amtrak chartered train in Alliance, Ohio.

Biden embarks on a roughly 200-mile whistle-stop tour through the battlefield states of Ohio and Pennsylvania on Wednesday, pushing his economic agenda while hoping to appeal to voters who have turned away. away from the Democratic Party in recent years and delivered Donald Trump the White House in 2016.

In Alliance, Biden also lambasted Trump for his “white supremacist dog whistle,” referring to the president’s failure to disown white supremacists in last night’s debate – a moment that drew intense attention in following the clash between Biden and Trump on stage.

Trump was prompted to condemn the “Proud Boys,” a group implicated in recent incidents of violence and unrest, but instead told the group to “step back and stand.”

“My message to the Proud Boys and all other white supremacist groups is to cease and desist. It’s not who we are. It’s not who we are as Americans, ”Biden said on Wednesday, adding that he believed Trump would step down if he lost the election because he had“ no alternative ”.

Pressed on his participation in the next two debates, scheduled for next month in Miami, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee, respectively, Biden said he was looking forward to them, but expressed hope that the candidates will be allowed to answer questions without the interruptions that defined last night’s conversation.

“I just hope there is a way the Debating Committee can control our ability to answer the question without interruption. I’m not going to speculate on what happens in the second or third debate, ”Biden said.

Shortly after Biden’s remarks, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that it was considering changing the format of the debate to allow for a “more orderly discussion.”

“Last night’s debate made it clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of issues. The CPD will carefully consider the changes it adopts and announce these measures shortly, ”a CPD statement released on Wednesday afternoon said.

The Democratic nominee, long known for his affinity for Amtrak, also commented on Tuesday night’s debate at the tour’s launch event in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Last night’s debate, and this election, it’s supposed to be about … you and all the people I grew up with in Scranton, and the folks in Youngstown and Claymont, Delaware, and all the people who make the difference, ”said Biden standing outside. at a social distance event just steps from his newly created campaign train.

“Does your president understand what you are going through?” What are so many other people going through? The question is, does he see you where you are and where you want to be? Does he care? Biden asked rhetorically.

Biden has also targeted the president on the tax issue, after the New York Times reported that Trump only paid $ 750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017.

“He’s not paying his fair share of taxes. He says it makes him smart, ”Biden said of Trump. “What does that make you … and millions of other hard-working Americans, decent people who pay our taxes?” Are we the suckers? Are we stupid because we follow the rules? Biden said.

Biden’s one-day train tour will take him through Ohio and Pennsylvania, two states that show the former vice president above 50% in a recent poll. The former vice president will target areas Democrats hope to maintain or reclaim in November, with stops in Alliance, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Greensburg and Latrobe, Pa., As well as two events in Pennsylvania: one in New Alexandria and one drive- in Johnstown.

Stark County, Ohio, the site of the tour’s first stop, backed former President Barack Obama by more than five points in 2008, but sided with Trump by 17 points in 2016. Cambria, Pa., Where Wednesday’s tour ends, strongly supported Obama in 2008, but has returned significantly to the GOP since then, siding with Trump by around 37 points in 2016.

Biden signaled Wednesday morning that the tour will reflect the economic message he has sought to cultivate in recent weeks, making the election a choice between his hometown of Scranton, Pa., And communities like this across the country. country, and the monetary interests of Park Avenue in New York.

“My friends, this election is a choice between the values ​​of Scranton and Park Avenue, between the values ​​of Cleveland and Park Avenue, between the values ​​of the Alliance and Park Avenue,” Biden told a small crowd socially. distant from supporters and journalists Wednesday morning.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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