Biden Urges Trump to ‘Listen to the Scientists’ on Coronavirus

Jennifer Epstein

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden described “misinformation” from the White House as the “number one thing I’m most concerned about” since President Donald Trump began suggesting he may buck medical advice in the hopes of saving the U.S. economy.

“Listen to the scientists. Listen to the doctors. Listen to what they have to say,” Biden said Tuesday in an interview with ABC’s “The View,” urging Trump to give more airtime and more credence to Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I would respectfully suggest that you should have Dr. Fauci on a lot more than the president or anyone who’s not an expert like Fauci laying out exactly what’s going on.”

The interview was Biden’s first since the pandemic has intensified and since Trump’s press briefings have become a staple of daytime TV. Biden is pushing back with some caution on what he sees as Trump’s missteps, aware that anything too aggressive will be perceived as opportunistic politicking during a national crisis.

Biden said he’s been spending an hour and a half each day meeting virtually with a team of public-health advisers and the same amount of time meeting with economic advisers, some of whom he described as former Obama administration officials, to help devise his counterproposals to Trump.

He’s also in discussions with members of Congress and other elected officials. He last spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on March 17, according to a Pelosi aide.

He’s planning to hold near-daily briefings to offer his views on the Trump administration actions and to reassure Democrats who are at once unhappy with the current president and want to see their party’s likely nominee take action.

“The American people can handle the truth,” Biden said. “But what they can’t handle is something that’s not true, that they believe in a moment and then they find out is not true. They lose confidence. The president has to be instilling confidence in the American people that we know how to deal with this virus and we know how to deal with this crisis as well as the economic side of it.”

Trump suggested Monday that he wants the country to return to something closer to normal earlier than his administration’s top medical experts are recommending in hopes of avoiding an extended economic slowdown.

Trump told reporters Monday that cars haven’t been outlawed even though people die in accidents and suggested that the same logic could apply to coronavirus. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggested Monday that “lots of” older Americans would be willing to die to save the economy for their grandchildren.

“I don’t agree with the notion that somehow it’s OK to let people die,” Biden said, referring to Patrick’s comments, which were played earlier in the show.

Some of the videos that Biden’s campaign has posted online are drawing millions of views, including one Monday decrying what he described as Republicans’ proposed $500 billion “slush fund for corporations” that had drawn 2.9 million views by midday Tuesday.

“The irony is virtual campaigning I’ll probably reach more people than I would out there shaking hands,” he said.

“You know me, I like to see people, look them in the eye, answer their questions directly” but, he added, “with the new technology available I think I’ll be able to reach and make my points across the board as well as I could if I were out doing a big rally.”

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