Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday lambasted President Trump for “waving the white flag” over the handling of the resurgent coronavirus pandemic as he offered his own plan to tackle the pandemic.
“Now, it’s almost July and it seems our wartime president has surrendered, waved the white flag, and abandoned the battlefield,” Biden said, speaking at a high school in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. “He called himself a wartime president. Remember when he exhorted the nation to sacrifice together ‘in the face of this inevitable and invisible enemy’? What happened?”
“Today we’re facing a serious threat, and we must meet it — as one country. But this president gives us no direction. He pits us against one another,” Biden added.
The former vice president criticized Trump for allowing states to decide for themselves on reopening, saying we need a unified response.
“Whatever it is that we’re doing now, it’s not working. A state-by-state approach will only produce confusion and slow any progress,” Biden said. “We can’t continue like this, half recovery and half getting worse, half wearing masks and half rejecting signs. We can’t continue, half with a plan and half just hoping for the best. We won’t defeat the virus with a piecemeal approach.”
He reiterated his own five-point plan for combating the virus, in which he encouraged the president to adopt in its “entirety” that includes free nationwide testing, contact tracing programs, accelerating the development and distribution of a vaccine, establish nationwide standards for reopening the economy, and ramped up production of personal protective equipment by invoking the Defense Production Act.
“The steps you’ve taken so far haven’t gotten the job done, Mr. President. Fix the shortage of PPE for our health care workers before you tee off another round of golf,” Biden said. “The American people didn’t make enormous sacrifices over the past four months so they could just waste their time, and you can waste all the efforts that they have undertaken with your midnight rantings and tweets.”
On mask, Biden said there should be federal guidance “that everyone needs to wear a mask in public. Period.”
“We absolutely need a clear message from the very top of our federal government that everyone needs to wear a mask in public,” he said. “It’s called patriotism. It’s called making sure you look out for the other person. It may be inconvenient. It may be uncomfortable. But it’s the right thing to do as an American.”
Biden said the “minutes after he is declared the winner of the election,” he would “immediately reach out” to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and ask him to “continue his incredible service to this country.”
“Dr. Fauci will have full access to the Oval Office and an uncensored platform to speak directly to the American people — whether delivering good news or bad,” Biden stated.
After his 20-minute speech, Biden took questions from reporters for the first time in three months as a way to mute the Trump campaign repeated attacks over the lack of news conference he has conducted since becoming the presumptive nominee. Biden took a total of 15 questions, all softball type questions over the course of 30 minutes. He was mostly questioned about his upcoming plans regarding his campaign to which Biden stated he “going to follow the docs’ orders” and wouldn’t be holding any large-scale rallies going forward.
When asked about the polls that show him widened his lead by an average of almost 10 points in national polling, according to Real Clear Politics polling average, Biden said he didn’t “want to jinx” it, citing the polling data is “too early to make any judgment.”
On recent reports of President Trump not acting on intelligence briefing that showed Russia offering bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Biden told reporters that the president has a “lot to answer for.”
“It’s an absolute dereliction of duty if any of this is even remotely true,” Biden said. “If these allegations are true and he did nothing about any of this, then, in fact, I think the public should, unrelated to my running, conclude that this man is unfit to be president of the United States of America.”
He added, “The idea that somehow he didn’t know or isn’t being briefed, it is a dereliction of duty if that’s the case. And if he was briefed, and nothing was done about this, that’s a dereliction of duty.”
Biden also attacked Trump’s own cognitive abilities with regard to the developing story. Trump and his campaign have questioned Biden’s mental fitness, pointing to time he has stumbled over words or committed verbal gaffes as evidence of cognitive decline.
“He talks about cognitive capability. He doesn’t seem to be cognitively aware of what’s going on. He either reads and or gets briefed on important issues and he forgets it or he doesn’t think it’s necessary that he needs to know it,” Biden said.
At the close of the press conference, a reporter asked Biden if he has been tested for cognitive decline, in which the presumptive Democratic nominee lashed out on the reporter.
“You’re a lying dog face,” Biden shouted before the reporters even finished his question. “I’ve been tested and I’m constantly tested. Look, all you gotta do is watch me, and I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”
Ahead of Biden’s event, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh in a call with reporters said Biden’s press conference, the first in 89 days will be “his same tired attacks on President Trump’s federal coronavirus response.” He noted that while Biden “has done nothing but lob partisan grenades from his basement in Delaware,” Trump has held 55 press conference.
Murtaugh also spotlighted “13 separate false claims Joe Biden has made about the coronavirus,” while criticizing Biden’s actions as Vice President during the H1N1 pandemic and the Swine Flu outbreak.
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