Biden says Trump’s coronavirus response exposes administration’s ‘severe shortcomings’

Former Vice President Joe Biden in a speech lambasted President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Biden in a speech on Thursday lambasted President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it has “laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration.”

“Public fears are being compounded by a pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by the adversarial relationship with the truth he continues to have,” the former vice president said in Delaware.

The speech provided a stark contrast to Trump’s style of leadership, with Biden detailing a series of specific steps he would take to lead a “coordinated, global response.” It came the day after Trump delivered a shorter and less specific Oval Office address that was riddled with inaccuracies.

Biden said when he is president, he would “lead with science” and “listen to the experts,” and would aim to build the United States’ leadership role on the global stage.

He added: “I’ll always tell you the truth.”

Visit CNN’s Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

The Trump campaign responded to the speech by pointing to, what it called, Biden’s “terrible judgment and incompetence in the face of public health issues.”

“In times like this, America needs leadership and Biden has shown none,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also delivered a speech on Thursday criticizing the Trump administration’s response and urging solidarity among Americans in dealing with the pandemic.

In his speech, Biden criticized the Trump administration for cuts to funding for science and research and detailed his own set of proposals to combat the spread of coronavirus, calling it a roadmap for what could happen now and saying Trump is “welcome to adopt all of it today.”

He said Americans should not “fall back on xenophobia,” a reference to Trump calling coronavirus a “foreign virus” during his Oval Office speech Wednesday night.

“Labeling COVID-19 a ‘foreign virus’ does not displace the accountability for the misjudgments that have been taken so far by the Trump administration,” Biden said. “Let me be crystal clear: The coronavirus does not have a political affiliation. It will affect Republicans, independents and Democrats alike. It will not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender or zip code. It will touch people in positions of power, as well as the most vulnerable in our society.”

The former vice president also blasted the Trump administration for the slow deployment of coronavirus tests.

“The administration’s failure on testing is colossal. And it’s a failure of planning, leadership and execution,” he said. “By next week, the number of tests should be in the millions, not the thousands.”

Biden also faulted Trump for closing the office that President Barack Obama’s administration used to combat Ebola. He called it a “national disgrace that millions of our fellow citizens don’t have a single day of paid sick leave available,” and said Trump’s call for tax cuts to stimulate the faltering economy would benefit “Google and Goldman” but wouldn’t help ordinary Americans.

“Our government’s ability to respond effectively has been undermined by hollowing out our agencies and the disparagement of science,” Biden said. “And our ability to drive a global response is dramatically, dramatically undercut by the damage Trump has done to our credibility and our relationships around the world.”

Biden’s response comes as the coronavirus pandemic drastically alters the dynamics of the 2020 presidential race. Biden’s campaign has canceled public rallies and is instead planning “virtual events.”

His Democratic primary debate with Sanders — originally scheduled to take place in Arizona with a live audience — has been moved to Washington, DC, with no audience.

And Biden on Thursday announced a “virtual town hall” with Illinois residents, rather than the rally in Chicago his campaign had initially planned.

Sanders, in his speech, called for a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs during the coronavirus pandemic.

He focused his speech on the unique difficulties facing workers who rely on tips, older Americans in nursing homes and those facing all kinds of economic difficulty. In combating the spread of the virus, he also pointed to a deeper-seated problem, that existed before the pandemic began.

“Our country is at a severe disadvantage compared to every other major country on earth because we do not guarantee health care to all people as a right,” Sanders said.

He added: “And when you are uninsured or underinsured, you hesitate about getting the medical care you need because you cannot afford to get that care.”