Biden plans shadow coronavirus briefings

By Marc Caputo

Joe Biden is planning a regular shadow briefing on coronavirus to start as early as Monday to show how he would handle the crisis and address what he calls the lies and failures of President Trump.

Biden gave a preview of what’s to come in a conference call with reporters Friday, where he listed a litany of false and misleading statements from Trump, who has been holding regular White House press conferences concerning coronavirus preparedness and response that have been broadcast live on all major networks.

“President Trump stop saying false things, will ya?” Biden said. “People are worried they are really frightened, when these things don't come through. He just exacerbates their concern. Stop saying false things you think make you sound like a hero and start putting the full weight of the federal government behind finding fast, safe and effective treatments.”

Biden made his comments from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has been holed up for more than a week in adherence with Centers for Disease Control guidelines that urge people to practice social distancing.

Immediately after the initial onset of the crisis, Biden also held his fire against the president out of concern it would look too political — an accusation leveled at him anyway by Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, who said that “Biden will take attention from real updates Americans should know just to score political points.”

Ever since his commanding victories Tuesday against Bernie Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, Biden has made no public appearances or statements. Instead, he said, he has been spending time privately talking to health officials, businesses, governors and members of Congress.

Now, he said, his house is being outfitted with equipment that would enable him to livestream events, have interactive tele-press conferences and broadcast interviews with network television.

“I would like to get in the position and we're trying to work out so that the headquarters ... to be able to accommodate my directly answering questions in front of a press that's assigned to me,” he said. “We've hired a professional team to do that now. And excuse the expression that's a little above my pay grade to know how to do that.”

Most of Biden’s time was spent lighting up Trump.

Biden pointed out that the president said the U.S. is “very close” to making a coronavirus vaccine, but that could be a year away (and Trump confused the coronavirus with Ebola). Biden noted that Trump said two Navy ships are in “tip top shape” and on the way to help, but the Navy said one is in maintenance and the other lacks a medical crew and is being “spruced up,” according to NBC News. The 500 million respirator masks that Trump said the government ordered, Biden noted, could take 18 months to arrive. And he faulted Trump for doing too little to support state and local governments.

Biden also twice pointed out that Trump on March 6 said anybody who wants a coronavirus test can get it. But there aren’t enough tests.

“I’m sorry to say, that was simply a lie. And it’s still not true today,” Biden said. “The United States has been far behind the rest of the advanced world when it comes to testing.”