Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday sought to make the case that President Donald Trump‘s coronavirus response has failed, while expressing optimism that America will get through the disease’s onslaught.
The move comes at a time when the U.S. leads the world in coronavirus cases, but the president’s poll numbers have actually ticked upward during the crisis. Meanwhile, Biden has received just a small fraction of the earned media the president has received in the last ten days.
The former Vice President avoided overt politicization during the online forum with first responders, assuming more of a quasi-Presidential role, a posture designed to hearken back to his eight years in the Barack Obama White House.
The closest he got to the rhetoric of a typical campaign was rhetoric like this: “This is not personal. It has nothing to do with you, Donald Trump, nothing to do with you. Do your job. Stop personalizing everything.”
However, most of the event involved policy, with a low-key Biden listening to concerns from nurses and doctors, offering even-keeled recommendations often far removed from the partisan brawling of politics.
Biden also noted that the $2.2 trillion relief package passed by Congress Friday could have had more for first responders.
He added that equipment like personal protective equipment should not have to be reused, and that there needs to be more testing available.
“The President ordered GM to make ventilators, that’s really good news,” Biden said, taking note of a previous Trump concern that there could be “too many ventilators.”
Biden also slammed Trump for positing a “false choice” between reviving the economy and ensuring that the virus has cleared the population before removing restrictions on commerce and movement.
The former Vice President urged Trump to set up a national number for the unemployed, a federal clearinghouse to take the burden off states like Florida, which saw nearly 75,000 new applicants in the last week.
Biden also would like to see a second round of stimulus checks, “additional fiscal relief” to states, and limited forgiveness of student loans up to $10,000.
Additionally, Biden said the federal government should engage retired military doctors.
“The military has capacity to put those beds where they need to be,” Biden said, including hotspots like Louisiana and New Jersey.
The President has said he hoped to get things back to normal by Easter, an unlikely scenario given that nearly 102,000 Americans have tested positive, with 1,581 U.S. deaths.
“We’ve passed China,” Biden said. “We know where the new epicenters [will] occur.”
46 of those coronavirus casualties have been in Florida.