WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden on Thursday delivered a forceful rebuke of President Donald Trump’s leadership amid the coronavirus crisis, seeking to project steadiness and resolve from his perch as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
Biden, the former vice president, spoke Thursday afternoon from the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware — where he announced his 1972 bid for the Senate bid — about the challenges the country faces and his ideas for managing the outbreak. He aimed to draw sharp contrasts with Trump a day after the president addressed the nation from the Oval Office.
“Unfortunately, this virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration,” Biden said. “Public fears are being compounded by pervasive lack of trust in this president fueled by adversarial relationships with the truth that he continues to have.”
In his remarks, Biden offered his own plan for combating the virus, with proposals ranging from rapidly and vastly expanding testing to moving aggressively to boost hospital capacity to supporting an accelerated push for a vaccine.
He also detailed ideas to help those who struggle financially at a time of economic peril.
This moment of national anxiety, some of Biden’s allies believe, throws into sharp relief the choice Americans would face in a general-election matchup between Biden and Trump, and the stakes of that contest. Biden has been seeking to highlight the contrast in ways overt and subtle even as he continues a primary battle against Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was also expected to deliver remarks on the “health and economic crisis facing this country” later Thursday, according to his campaign.
Biden has previously sketched out other steps he would take as president to fight the virus, noting his work as vice president in combating Ebola and describing Obama administration priorities like bolstering funding to fight that disease. Ron Klain, who was Obama’s Ebola “czar,” is a top Biden adviser.
Trump’s somber address Wednesday night, in which he announced he was blocking most travel from continental Europe and promised new aid for workers and businesses, was a break from his previous efforts to play down the effects of the outbreak. But he also mischaracterized some of his administration’s new travel policies and described the threat as a “foreign virus,” though Americans are infected along with many in other countries.
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