Presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden now backs restrictions on travel from China — two months after President Donald Trump put them into place to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said on CNN on Friday that the former vice president “supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy.”
“Science supported this ban, therefore he did, too,” Bedingfield said.
On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency of international concern. The same day, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the first time confirmed person-to-person spread of the Wuhan virus and applauded WHO’s decision. And also that same day, Trump created the White House Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate U.S. efforts regarding the new disease.
The next day, on Jan. 31, the president declared coronavirus a U.S. public health emergency and issued a travel ban between the United States and China. Campaigning in Iowa that day, Biden criticized Trump’s China travel ban, saying, “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia.”
On Feb. 1, Biden again criticized Trump for the move.
“We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency,” he wrote on Twitter.
We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 1, 2020
The Trump campaign blasted Biden for his tardiness.
“Joe Biden today finally endorsed President Trump’s travel restrictions on China in response to the coronavirus, more than two months after they were imposed and after Biden has already characterized them as ‘xenophobia’ and ‘fear-mongering,'” wrote Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the campaign.
“Trump issued the restrictions on January 31. Democrats like Biden’s top coronavirus advisor, Ron Klain, opposed the move. Health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have repeatedly credited the travel restrictions with putting the United States ahead of the curve in combating the coronavirus.
“After two months of criticizing the effective China travel restrictions, Joe Biden now wants a do-over. The overwhelming evidence shows that Biden repeatedly slammed the restrictions out of a knee-jerk need to oppose President Trump’s every move. And now that he has reversed himself, Biden adds to a long list of Trump actions that Biden has called for or agreed with after the President has already acted. While President Trump has been leading the nation in this war against the virus, Biden has positioned himself as the opposition at every step of the way,” Murtaugh wrote.
Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale also ripped Biden on Twitter over his travel ban reversal.
“This is a long time lag, even for Sleepy Joe! TWO MONTHS after @realDonaldTrump restricted China travel Biden says he supports it. After 2 months of bashing the restrictions as ‘xenophobia’ & ‘fear-mongering.’ That’s not leadership. That’s bad judgment,” he wrote.
This is a long time lag, even for Sleepy Joe!
TWO MONTHS after @realDonaldTrump restricted China travel Biden says he supports it.
After 2 months of bashing the restrictions as “xenophobia” & “fear-mongering.”
That’s not leadership. That’s bad judgment.https://t.co/YqbXKTa5M4
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) April 3, 2020
Bedingfield, though, said Biden’s “reference to xenophobia was about Trump’s long record of scapegoating others at a time when the virus was emerging from China,” and that it was not a reference to the China travel ban.