Biden accuses Trump of ‘childish’ tactics on coronavirus response, rejects president’s testing claims

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Joe Biden is accusing President Trump of creating a “false choice” between protecting public health and reopening the nation’s economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a “childish tactic” to “split the country into dueling camps.”

In an opinion piece Monday in The Washington Post, the former vice president also blasted as a “baldfaced lie” the president’s claims that coronavirus testing would be available to all Americans.

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While neither charge is new – the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has been emphasizing both arguments for at least a month – it’s a further sign that there will be no let-up of a full-court press by Biden, his campaign and allied groups in slamming Trump over his handling of the federal government’s response to the pandemic. The coronavirus has become the dominant issue in the presidential campaign with less than six months to go until the November election.

“It’s been more than two months since Trump claimed that ‘anybody that wants a test can get a test.’ It was a baldfaced lie when he said it, and it still isn’t remotely true,” Biden wrote. “If we’re going to have thriving workplaces, restaurants, stores and parks, we need widespread testing. Trump can’t seem to provide it — to say nothing of worker safety protocols, consistent health guidelines or clear federal leadership to coordinate a responsible reopening.”

Biden also spotlighted that the White House is conducting daily testing for the president and his team.

“They knew exactly how to make the Oval Office safe and operational, and they put in the work to do it,” the former vice president wrote. “They just haven’t put in that same work for the rest of us. If Trump and his team understand how critical testing is to their safety — and they seem to, given their own behavior — why are they insisting that it’s unnecessary for the American people?”

Biden’s op-ed comes hours before the president and administration officials are expected to focus on testing at a planned news conference at 4 p.m. ET in the Rose Garden.

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The former vice president also emphasized that urgency of the moment – with more than 79,000 people dead from the coronavirus in the U.S. and one out of every five workers filing for unemployment – “begs for urgent, steady, empathetic, unifying leadership.”

Biden charged that “Trump is reverting to a familiar strategy of deflecting blame and dividing Americans. His goal is as obvious as it is craven: He hopes to split the country into dueling camps, casting Democrats as doomsayers hoping to keep America grounded and Republicans as freedom fighters trying to liberate the economy.”

Trump’s Democratic challenger also argued that the president had failed to convince Americans that it’s safe to resume normal activities.

He pointed to data from the online restaurant reservations service OpenTable that 12 days after Georgia resumed in-person dining at eateries, “there were still 92 percent fewer diners than there were on the same day a year ago.”

President Trump’s re-election campaign – responding to the Biden op-ed – told Fox News that “if anyone is dividing America, it is Joe Biden, who sits on the sidelines and offers nothing but criticism as he attempts to undermine Americans’ confidence in the response to the virus.”

And Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh also pointed to Biden’s record as vice president.

“Joe Biden continues to lob political duds from his basement in a desperate search for relevance. The truth is that the Obama-Biden administration did nothing to prepare the nation for any future pandemics. During the swine flu outbreak, the Obama White House even had to apologize for Biden’s irresponsible comments about the public health threat and Biden became a joke," he argued.