Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he isn’t blaming President Donald Trump for the coronavirus outbreak, but he does blame him for “walking away” from the crisis.
“The idea of saying that this is going to go away, that some miracle is going to happen is unrealistic,” Biden said, adding that Trump has repeatedly promoted “crazy” treatments and “hasn’t listened to the scientists.”
Biden and his vice presidential running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, spoke to ABC News television in an interview broadcast Sunday night. It was their first joint interview since teaming up for the Democratic ticket.
The interview was conducted last Friday, the day after the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention.
On Sunday evening, Trump announced he had helped to end a regulatory logjam and prompted the federal Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency authorization of so-called convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Trump called it a “powerful therapy” with “an incredible rate of success, although government scientists said the treatment needs further study.
On Monday, Republicans begin their national convention to nominate Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a second term. Trump and his supporters are expected to cite the FDA emergency authorization of the treatment, which uses antibodies from the blood of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat the disease in others, as an example of Trump’s leadership in fighting the pandemic.
Biden said that if elected president, he would follow the advice of public health experts, including shutting down the nation’s economy again if that is what it takes to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
"I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives. We cannot get the country moving until we control the virus," Biden said. He also called on governors to require the wearing of face masks.
To those who refuse to wear masks, Biden said, “give me a break.” He called the wearing of masks a patriotic responsibility for Americans to protect their neighbors by not passing along the virus.
Biden said the president hasn’t listened to public health experts and scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Biden said he has been pleading with the president to devise a national plan, saying Trump has no notion how to reach Americans.
Harris dismissed as a “distraction” any talk about the sharp words she had with Biden during one of the Democratic presidential debates over the matter of school busing. She said Biden understands that Black families own only one-tenth of the wealth that whites do, and that Blacks and Hispanics are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as whites.
Harris and Biden also downplayed differences they had on issues such as health care. Harris supported a Medicare-for-all type insurance system while Biden, who as his vice president helped President Barack Obama enact the Affordable Care Act, wants to add a public option to the existing private insurance markets.
"We both believe that health care is a right, not a privilege,” Biden said.
Harris said she would be honored to serve as Biden’s vice president and says the call to be his running mate was a “surreal” moment.
Biden said he did not feel pressure to choose a Black woman to run with him but added that women make up 51% of the country's population and that “the government should look like the people, look like the country."
When questioned about whether a 78-year-old man is mentally prepared to become president of the United States – and possibly serve until he is 86 years old -- Biden said, “watch me.”