2020 elections

Biden to Trump: Start acting like ‘a wartime president’

The former veep held his first coronavirus shadow briefing.

Joe Biden delivered his first shadow briefing on the coronavirus Monday, faulting President Trump for giving false information about the pandemic, not taking it seriously enough and not moving faster.

“Trump keeps saying that he’s a wartime president. Well, start to act like one,” Biden said, drawing attention to his own coronavirus response plan. “To paraphrase a frustrated President Lincoln writing to an inactive General McClellan during the Civil War, ‘if you don't want to use the army, may I borrow it?’”

But as the atmospherics of Biden’s briefing showed, the former vice president is outgunned in the battle against Trump when it comes to getting his message out.

Limiting his contact with the outside world due to the coronavirus contagion, Biden made his remarks via webcast from his recreation room-turned-broadcast studio in his Wilmington, Delaware, home. In contrast, Trump has commanded live national television coverage for his daily press briefings from the White House.

Biden was still working out some small hiccups in getting accustomed to webcasting, not knowing for a few moments before he spoke that he was live and, briefly at one point, losing his place when his notes appeared out of order.

None of that matters as much, though, as much as the difference between the message and tone of the former vice president when compared to the current president, Biden advisers say. Biden wants to appear measured, reassuring and calm to contrast with what they say is an erratic Trump, who 10 minutes before midnight blasted out a new message about the economy that he wrote in all capital letters on Twitter.

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!” Trump wrote at 11:50 p.m., before retweeting it 12 hours later following Biden’s speech.

In a prebuttal to Biden’s criticisms, Trump’s campaign Monday accused the Democrat of “undermining Americans’ confidence in the federal government’s response to a global pandemic and preying upon Americans’ fears.” It also faulted Biden failing to “mention China once” as the cause of the pandemic.

Biden brought up China in his remarks Monday by pointing out that he had warned Trump not to take the word of President Xi Jingping earlier this year when Trump was lauding the country’s response to the virus.

“My point is not simply that the president was wrong. My point is that the mindset, that was slow to recognize the problem in the first place to treat it with the seriousness it deserved, is still too much a part of how the president is addressing the problem,” Biden said.

“Let me be clear, Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus, but he does bear responsibility for our response,” Biden said. “And I along with every American hope he steps up and starts to get this right.”