A day after President Trump delivered a statement from the White House about the administration's efforts to combat the coronavirus, Former Vice President Joe Biden offered a press conference of his own. He noted that his presidential campaign had cancelled election night rallies they had scheduled in Cleveland, OH, taking his own advice to "avoid public gatherings."
That's all understandable, and a good tip. But then Biden pointed fingers at Trump and accused him of "xenophobia" because he called COVID-19 a "foreign virus" in his White House address. He also said the Trump administration was guilty of several "misjudgments" since the start of the outbreak, particularly the president's new travel bans. As he announced Wednesday night, all travel to the U.S. from Europe will be banned starting Friday at midnight for the next 30 days, with the exception of the United Kingdom.
Banning travel may "slow" the spread of the virus, but "it will not stop it," Biden responded. He then suggested that Trump's travel restrictions were based on "favoritism." A few minutes later the former VP said that coronavirus had laid bare this administration's "shortcomings" and that Trump was relying on fear, not science, in his response to the health crisis.
Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director, responded in a statement on Thursday.
“In the past, Joe Biden has shown terrible judgment and incompetence in the face of public health issues," Murtaugh said. "The Obama White House had to publicly apologize for and clean up after Biden when his irresponsible remarks caused panic during the swine flu outbreak in 2009. Just weeks ago, he was openly critical of President Trump’s early move to restrict travel from China to the United States in response to the coronavirus – a decision which medical experts agree helped impede the spread of the virus to this country. Yesterday his campaign actually raised the vile conspiracy theory that the President purposely allowed the coronavirus to spread. In times like this, America needs leadership and Biden has shown none. President Trump acted early and decisively and has put the United States on stronger footing than other nations. His every move has been aimed at keeping Americans safe, while Joe Biden has sought to capitalize politically and stoke citizens’ fears.”
The Trump campaign added a few more thoughts on Twitter.
Joe Biden just lied, saying coronavirus tests should be in the millions, not thousands.— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) March 12, 2020
Has anyone told Joe that 1 million tests have already been distributed, with 4 million distributed by the end of the week?
"During the 2009 swine flu outbreak, Biden made reckless comments unsupported by science and the experts," a Trump 2020 campaign account recalled.
In other words, Biden is the last person on Earth who should be giving the Democratic rebuttal.