Democracy 2020 Digest: Biden, blasting Trump, vows dueling daily briefing during coronavirus crisis

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Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday slammed President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, urging the Republican incumbent to “stop swerving between overpromising, buck-passing, and start delivering protection to our people.”

The all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee – in a conference call with political reporters – also said that as early as Monday he hopes to be holding near-daily briefings regarding the pandemic that’s swept across the nation, which could serve as a political counterbalance to the daily briefings the president and government officials have been giving the past week from the White House.

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“I want to be in daily or least in significant contact with the American people and communicate what I would be doing, what I think we should be doing, and how we should be doing it,” Biden emphasized.

“Hopefully by Monday we’re going to be in a very different place in terms of the ability to be in communications with all of you,” Biden explained.

The president’s reelection team – responding to Biden – defended the president's actions, with campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh saying that Trump “is leading an unprecedented mobilization of America against the coronavirus and all Joe Biden can offer is ineffective partisan sniping from the sidelines.”

The former vice president told reporters that he and his team have “been coordinating with House and Senate leadership in the Democratic Party. We’ve been in contact with the governors.” And he praised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo -- whose state has been hit hard by the pandemic – for “doing one hell of a job.”

Biden spotlighted that he’s been on the phone with officials and aides “probably an average of seven hours a day” and highlighted that “my whole focus is basically been how we deal with this crisis and quite frankly thus far it’s been less about how we campaign or make stark differences between the president and I.”

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While he didn’t directly contrast himself with the president, Biden did repeatedly blast Trump for what many Democrats have charged was a slow federal response to the crisis and for publicly underplaying the severity of the global outbreak for weeks.

Biden stressed, “In times of crisis, the American people deserve a president who tells them the truth and takes responsibility. Unfortunately, President Trump has not been that president.”

And he charged that “for the first two months of this crisis, President Trump used his public statements to falsely tell us we had nothing to worry about while praising China’s response for managing the virus at the same time I was urging strongly that he insist that we get more information from the Chinese and we have our experts go to China and see firsthand. To the best of my knowledge, none of that was attempted by the president.”

Biden then argued that the president “switched to falsely telling us that he’s taking action he has not taken, promising results he’s not delivered and announcing actions that he not even ordered. And people are scared. They’re worried. They don’t know quite what to do. The president has been behind the curves throughout this whole response.”

Speaking directly to Trump, Biden said: “President Trump, stop saying false things, will you? People are worried. They are really frightened. And when these things don’t come true, you just exacerbate their concern. Stop saying false things [you] think make you sound like a hero.”

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Biden specifically criticized the president on numerous fronts including not immediately implementing and using the Defense Production Act – which mobilizes private industry to produce and distribute the necessary medical supplies to fight the crisis – including ventilator and personal protective equipment for medical personnel. The president signed the act on Wednesday but said a day later he hadn’t invoked it yet. On Friday Trump said the act had kicked into “high gear.”

Biden charged that Trump “was all over the map.”

And the former vice president stressed that “perhaps nothing is more outrageous than the Trump administration’s abject failure on testing -- its refusal to accept responsibility.”

“President Trump just claimed this month anybody who wants a test can get it. Let me repeat that. On March 6 he said that anybody who wants a test can get it. I’m sorry to say that was simply a lie and it’s still not true today. The United States has been far behind the rest of the advanced world when it comes to testing,” he added.

The Trump reelection campaign fired back – once again criticizing the then vice president’s handling of the swine flu outbreak.

“The only thing Joe Biden knows about handling a public health crisis is that the Obama White House had to apologize for his remarks that set off a panic during the swine flu outbreak in 2009,” Murtaugh said in a statement.

“When President Trump took the critical step of restricting travel from China in response to the coronavirus, Biden called it ‘xenophobic.’ Most of what Biden says the government should do are things President Trump is already doing,” Murtaugh added.

Making elections coronavirus safe 

With the coronavirus outbreak forcing states with upcoming presidential primaries to postpone their elections, there’s growing concern that the pandemic that is sweeping the nation and forcing many Americans to hunker down in their homes could severely impact November’s general election.

A new study from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice spotlights sweeping changes to current voting practices across the country – such as universal mail-in voting, ballot drive-by drop off boxes from coast to coast, and easier online voter registration – to make voting in November safe.

The authors of the study urge that “implementing that plan must begin now” in order “to ensure that the pandemic does not prevent a free and fair election.”

But the plan isn’t cheap – with a price tag at roughly $2 billion.

Read the full story here.

Bloomberg's massive investment for 2020 Democrats

Mike Bloomberg is transferring an eye-popping $18 million from his now-suspended presidential campaign to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) “to help Democrats win up and down the ballot in November.”

Bloomberg officials said on Friday that the transfer by the former New York City mayor to the national party’s coordinated campaign was the largest in recent history.

Read the full story here.