Biden tears into Trump's handling of the pandemic: 'We don't need a cheerleader, Mr. President. We need a president.'

Former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the coronavirus at Alexis I. Dupont High School in Wilmington, Delaware.Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday ticked through, month by month, what he described as the Trump administration's failed response to the coronavirus crisis, while offering his own plan for how to better contain the pandemic.
  • Biden reiterated his call for Americans to wear masks in public: "It may be inconvenient. It may be uncomfortable. But it's the right thing to do as an American."
  • He also called for more support for older people isolating themselves from COVID-19, nationwide standards for reopening, weekly updates on the virus, and making Dr. Anthony Fauci more available.
  • "The American people don'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," Biden said of President Trump.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered a forceful rebuke of the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus.

It was the first time Biden took questions from the press — aside from one-on-one interviews — since March.

"We don't need a cheerleader, Mr. President," Biden said. "We need a president, Mr. President."Advertisement

Biden ticked through what he described as the Trump administration's failed response month by month, while offering his plan to contain the virus.

He called for a nationwide testing and contact-tracing program, nationwide standards for reopening, mandatory masks in public, support for seniors and other vulnerable Americans who have to isolate themselves from the virus, and ramped-up production of personal protective equipment, in addition to COVID-19 tests and flu vaccines.

"If you suspect these steps are a lot of the same things I was talking about in March when I released my first COVID-19 response, you'd be right," Biden said.
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"If it feels like you're hearing the experts talk about the same issues for months, you'd be right."

Regarding older people — a vulnerable group to the virus, and a key constituency with which Biden has begun peeling away from Trump in recent polling — Biden offered empathy and consideration for their plight in isolation. "People, especially older Americans and those with loved ones in nursing homes — I get calls all the time — they're simply scared," Biden said. "They're frightened.Advertisement

"This isn't just taking a toll on their physical health. There's an emotional cost as well. We can't expect vulnerable populations to quarantine indefinitely without support.

"I want them to know that their health and safety will be my responsibility if I'm your president, and I will not abandon you."

Underscoring what he described as the American public's frustration and confusion over the best ways to protect themselves from the virus, Biden tore into Trump for his refusal to wear a mask, or even endorse their use.Advertisement

Biden also reiterated his call for Americans to wear masks in public to protect one another from spreading the virus, with studies showing face coverings drastically reducing transmission if they are widely used.

"Wear a mask," Biden said. "It's not just about you [...] It's about keeping other people safe.

"It may be inconvenient. It may be uncomfortable. But it's the right thing to do as an American. Protect your coworkers and neighbors."Advertisement

Further lambasting the president, Biden called for Trump to take responsibility for the pandemic response as commander in chief.

"Now, it's almost July, and it seems like our wartime president has surrendered," Biden said, referring to Trump briefly calling himself a "wartime president," before sidelining his top health officials from official White House appearances.

Biden also said he would call Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious-disease expert, on day one of his administration, and ask the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to remain in his post with unfettered access to the Oval Office and American public.Advertisement

While Biden's default setting has been to refrain from any over-the-top attacks on opponents — going so far as to caution against backseat driving while Trump is in office — he did not mince words Tuesday.

"The American people don'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," he said.
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