Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made a series of confusing and contradictory remarks on Sunday during an interview on ABC News about the coronavirus outbreak.
Appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” Biden attacked President Trump after Biden reversed course last week and said that he agreed with Trump’s travel restrictions on China after initially appearing to suggest that Trump was xenophobic for banning travel from China.
“He indicated that I complimented him on – on dealing with China,” Biden said. “Well, you know, 45 nations had already moved to keep – block China’s personnel from being able to come to the United States before the president moved.”
Biden’s statement is completely false. 45 other nations did not “block China’s personnel from being able to come to the United States before the president moved.”
Joe Biden lives in a alternate reality.
Over 2 months ago, when Trump announced travel restrictions with China, Joe Biden was criticizing Trump for “xenophobia.”
Today, Biden criticized Trump for the speed he enacted the travel ban.
Biden didn't support the ban until April 3. pic.twitter.com/vndvvmPBTj
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 5, 2020
Later in the interview, Biden reversed course and claimed that shutting down borders was not an effective way of preventing the spread of the disease.
“You know, these viruses as you know, George, they have no borders, you can’t build a wall, you can’t put up – you can’t have, you know, people at the border trying to stop it, it’s beyond that capacity,” Biden said. “You have to know what’s coming, where it’s coming from, and how to deal with.”
Biden made the remark while adding that Trump should “listen to the experts” and “listen to the Faucis of the world.”
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that Trump’s decision to shut off travel from China “saved us really a lot of hurt.”
Despite Dr. Anthony Fauci’s support for travel restrictions, Joe Biden suggests they don’t work.
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 5, 2020
STEPHANOPOULOS: And former Vice President Joe Biden joins us right now.
Good morning, Mr. Vice President. Thank you for joining us.
JOE BIDEN: Oh, thank you for having me on your show. I appreciate it.
And I wish you well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sure thing.
We just heard President Trump there talking about you at his press conference yesterday. But his team also said — he also said this week that he would be open to taking a phone call from you. Has that phone call happened? And, if it does, what’s the most important thing you want to tell him to do right now?
BIDEN: Well, it hasn’t happened. I’m happy to talk to him.
And I would just tell them what we found is important to do when we went through, not as bad, but a similar crisis. And that is to — you have to move swiftly. And we have to move more rapidly. You have to implement the Defense Production Act, empower a supply commander, create a Defense Production Act for banks that get out small business loans, ramp up testing, a whole range of things.
You got to go faster than slower. And we started off awfully slow.
He indicated that I complimented him on — on dealing with China. Well, you know, 45 nations had already moved to keep — block China’s personnel from being able to come to the United States before the president moved.
So, it’s just — it’s about pace. It’s about — it’s about the urgency. And I don’t think there’s been enough of it, urgency.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president has said many times now he’s worried that the cure is going to be worse than the disease.
Does that — does that concern you at all? And isn’t there a point there that, if this lockdown goes on for too long, the public health concerns could be — could be grave?
BIDEN: Well, the public health concerns can be grave.
And you saw what’s happening in Singapore. They moved very rapidly to bring down the coronavirus down to zero, and then they began to open up. They had very, very tight restrictions in terms of social distancing, et cetera, staying in place.
Now it’s coming back. And so, you know, we have got to — what we need most of all, and it’s not the president’s fault at all, but we need most of all a vaccine. But in the meantime, we have to take all the efforts we can to make sure we prevent the spread, lower that curve as they talk about, and move from there.
And that’s why I think, George, we’re going to need not only the last — CARES Act that the congress passed, which did a great deal, we’re going to need at least two more iterations of that I believe to help the economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what we’ve seen also these new guidelines from the CDC saying that they believe the public now should wear masks in public. President Trump said he doesn’t want to do it. He’s not going to do it, but several other leading politicians are. When you go in public going forward, will you be wearing a mask?
BIDEN: Yes. Look, I think it’s important to follow the science, listen to the experts, do what they tell you. It’s, you know, you may not look — he may not like how he looks in a mask, but the truth of the matter is that follow the science, that’s what they’re telling us.
So, if I go out in public, and I have not gone to commercial places of late. I haven’t gone to my local church, et cetera, there are no services actually, but my generic point is that you should follow the science.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And your campaign videos have been quite tough on the president. You say his failures, his incompetence are going to cost lives. Is that what’s happening now?
BIDEN: Well, look, what I have been saying is that he’s moving too slow. The virus is not his fault, but the response is his responsibility.
Look, there are a few things he can do — he can immediately and fully implement the Defense Production Act, which I and many others called for a long time ago. And he’s just getting underway with it. There’s still no Defense supply act — Production Act for gloves, masks, all the things first responders need.
We should create a bank Defense Production Act. We have got to get those small business loans out. You saw what American Express did — I mean, excuse me, Bank of America did. They came out and said unless you already have loans with us, unless you already have worked with us, unless you have a credit card with us we’re not going to — even though they’re government-guaranteed loans, we’re not going to process those loans.
We have got to save jobs. We’ve got to save people’s businesses. And they have to exponentially ramp up testing. We have been talking about 4 million tests are going to be available. Look where is all this — where is it? What’s being done?
You’ve got to open up enrollment for Obamacare. A lot of people don’t have insurance. This president is trying to take away Obamacare across the board, which will leave people naked to this problem that we’re facing. And we have to finally get some data how this Coronavirus is really hurting African-Americans and minority communities.
These are things that should be done now, but you need a supply commander in charge of it all. And right out of the White House, right out — in direct response to the president so we know where to get what we have to get and get it quickly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back in 2014, President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security warned that a devastating pandemic was the highest homeland security risk from a natural cause. Should your administration have done more to prepare?
BIDEN: Well, we did a lot to prepare. As you know, George, we set up an office within — a pandemic office within the White House. We expanded CDC in other countries, so we could be, in fact, observe, see when things were coming, how things were moving. We put people in China. I mean, we did a whole lot of things and they got a very detailed breakdown on this by a briefing, the Trump administration, when we transitioned out of office.
But the president dismantled almost all of that. And he drastically cut the budgets for the CDC. He drastically cut the budget for the — anyway, so he didn’t follow through on any of what we suggested was a real problem.
Now, it’s going to continue to be a problem. We’ve got to learn lessons from this. We can do much better than being done now. And we can eventually get to the place where we can — you know, these viruses as you know, George, they have no borders, you can’t build a wall, you can’t put up — you can’t have, you know, people at the border trying to stop it, it’s beyond that capacity. You have to know what’s coming, where it’s coming from and how to deal with.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s deal with the situation with Captain Brett Crozier from the USS Theodore Roosevelt. As you know, he was fired earlier this week. The president said yesterday he 100 percent supports that decision. Your response?
BIDEN: I think it’s — I think it’s close to criminal the way they’re dealing with this guy. Not his conduct. The idea that this man stood up and said what had to be said, got it out that his troops, his — his Navy personnel were in danger — in danger.
Look at how many have the virus. I think the guy should be — he should be — have a commendation whether than be fired.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, let — I want to turn to some politics before we go.
As you know, Wisconsin now having its primary on Tuesday, your opponent Sanders said that should be put off and the governor now joining that chorus as well. But it looks like it’s going to happen.
Is that wise?
BIDEN: Well, look, I think they should follow the science, I — and, you know, what I’ve been hearing, I have been following it like you have, like everybody has, watching the court action, it’s still in court now. And — but I think whatever — whatever the science says is what we should do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And does that hold for the convention as well? If — are you open to the idea that — it just may not be possible to do the convention in August?
BIDEN: Well, we’re going to have to do a convention, may have to do a virtual convention. I know — I think we should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding a convention is going to be necessary, but we may not be able to put 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 people in one place and that’s very possible. Again, let’s see where it is.
What we do between now and then is going to dictate a lot of that as well. But my point is that I think you just got to follow the science. Listen to the experts. Listen to the Faucis of the world. And if that’s the case, it’s the case.
But we cannot let this — we’ve never allowed any crisis from a Civil War straight through to a pandemic in ‘17, all the way around, in ’16, we have never, never let our democracy take second fiddle, we can both have a democracy and elections and at the same time protect the public health.
But I think it’s time we start thinking about how we’re going to hold elections, whether we’re going to have to spend a lot of time figuring whether we do — is it going to mostly be by mail, which is not the preferred route for everyone — how are we going to do that? How are we going to make it available to everybody?
And I think that has to be —
STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you talked to Bernie —
BIDEN: — smart people thinking about now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you talked to Bernie Sanders about your vice presidential pick, and tell us a little bit about how that’s going. Is he ready to unify behind your candidacy? And has he given you any recommendations?
BIDEN: Well, look, what I’ve said about the vice presidency, I said — I was apologizing because it was a bit presumptuous for me to be setting up a committee to go through the process of — and you’ve been through it before in your other life, of deciding, doing the background checks on potential nominees. And, I was apologizing to him by saying, Bernie, I don’t want to in any way and not in any way to demean your effort, but if we don’t start now, we’re not going to be able to get there. And he was very gracious, he said he understood.
It wasn’t about asking him for recommendations of who he or I would pick were we the nominee for vice president. It was about saying to him, Bernie, I feel somewhat foolish since although it’s likely — I’m the overwhelming likelihood to get the nomination that, in fact, it’s not officially done yet and I’m moving forward with a committee for vice presidential selection and to be able to set up a circumstance where the background checks can be done. As you know, they take a lot of time, and if we don’t start now or shortly in the month of April, it’s going to be hard to get it done.
So, I was basically apologizing and making it clear that I wasn’t trying to be presumptuous, in any way push him. And he said he appreciated that. That was the extent of our discussion about the vice presidency.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Vice President, thanks for your time this morning.
BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you, George. Good luck to you, man.