(NEW YORK) — Former Vice President Joe Biden, currently the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential race, joined ABC’s The View on Tuesday, urging Americans and the Trump administration to listen to the health experts leading the response — criticizing the president in the process.
“Listen to the scientists. Listen to the doctors. Listen to what they have to say,” Biden told the hosts. “I would respectfully suggest that you should have Dr. [Anthony] Fauci on a lot more than the president — or anyone who’s not an expert like Fauci — laying out exactly what’s going on.”
When asked about President Donald Trump’s comments that the country can’t let the “cure” be worse than the “problem,” Biden said the focus of the response has to remain on flattening “the curve” and taking steps to curb the spread of the virus.
“We have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse no matter what,” he said. “No matter what. We know what has to be done.”
He added that his main goal is not to “criticize” Trump’s response to the crisis, saying he does not blame him for the outbreak, but added that it is important to call out what he believes are mistruths coming from the White House.
“I think there’s truth to both sides. That’s why, if you notice what I’ve been doing, I’ve not been criticizing the president but I’ve been pointing out where there’s disagreement as to how to proceed,” Biden said, adding “The coronavirus is not his fault, but the lack of speed with which to respond to it — it has to move much faster … as I pointed out, this is not about Democrat or Republican.”
“This is not about what your party is. It’s about getting through this,” he continued. “The American people don’t want us in a political fight and I want no part of a political fight either, but when the president says things that, in fact, turn out not to be accurate, we should not say you’re lying. We should say, ‘Mr. President, that’s not the fact."”
Biden also took issue with recent comments made by Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, focused specifically on fixing the economy and sending Americans back to work amid the crisis.
“I don’t agree with the notion that somehow it’s okay to let the — let people die and I’m not sure that would happen,” Biden told the hosts. “I heard earlier comments on your show, to make sure the economy is there for our kids. The whole world is suffering from this. We have the strongest, most vital, most vibrant economy in the world. We can bounce back, but we need workers to bounce back.”
He added, “We need small businesses to bounce back. We need people being able to take care of their immediate needs. People are scared to death.”
Biden’s appearance on the show marks his first on-screen interview since the coronavirus pandemic put a pause on all in-person campaigning — moving the 2020 race largely to the virtual world.
The sudden shift to online campaigning created challenges for Biden’s team, who struggled with initial efforts at virtual events. He’s also faced criticism for being largely absent from the public’s view for the better part of last week, as they “desperately” worked to scale up the infrastructure needed to stay in regular contact with voters and reporters.
Biden, joined “The View” remotely from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where his campaign recently constructed what he described as a television studio out of a recreation room, and said that while he is confined to his home, he is staying active.
“I start the morning off with an hour and a half briefing with my medical experts on the health circumstances. They send me all these graphs and lay out exactly what the status of things are,” Biden said. “And then I have an hour and a half meeting with my economic team, former members of the administration and others who are laying out what they think is about to happen and how we should be dealing with it. I spend time on the phone with our congressional leaders.”
Biden said the current deal being negotiated on the Hill is “pretty good,” though it doesn’t have everything he would want included, and felt that both sides were close to an agreement.
“They’re going to take further actions on things like student loan forgiveness, everything for utility bills,” he said. “They’re going to talk about implementing this effectively and transparently, and the money that would go to major corporations has to be paid back. It can’t be used to, in fact, raise salaries or buybacks.”
He added, “We should be focusing on keeping people on the payroll.”
The former vice president, who has built a potentially insurmountable delegate lead over his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has been regularly excoriating President Donald Trump’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
During his remarks on Monday, Biden scolded the president for his contentious exchanges with reporters in the White House briefing room, urging him to level with the American people on what steps the government is taking to stem the outbreak.
“These briefings are an important opportunity to inform and reassure the American public,” Biden said during his roughly 15-minute address. “They’re not a place for political attacks, or to lash out at the press. They’re about the American people.”
But as he looks to cast himself in a leadership role opposite Trump ahead of a likely general election matchup, Biden still has to contend with both Sanders’ candidacy and a primary calendar that has largely put voting on hold for the foreseeable future.
As of Tuesday, at least 10 states have either postponed their nominating contests or have in some form changed the voting process.
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