In a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, the former vice president recounted what he launched as Trump’s missteps, from Trump’s first dismissals of the virus to his most recent refusals to wear a mask in public appearances.
Pointing to Trump in March, declaring himself a wartime president to fight the coronavirus, Biden said: “What happened? It is almost July now, and it seems that our wartime president surrendered, waved the white flag, and left the battlefield”.
The 77-year-old former vice president seemed eager to respond to the Trump campaign by portraying him as cognitively impaired, a case that is often done using videos out of context of Biden’s public appearances. He said he “can hardly wait” to debate Trump, 74.
Biden also chided Trump for not reading or forgetting the content of the daily briefing delivered to the President. The White House has denied that Trump has been “personally informed” about reports that Russia offered rewards to Taliban fighters for killing US troops in Afghanistan, alleging that intelligence “was not verified.”
“If he was not informed, it was a breach of duty. And if he was informed and did nothing, that is a breach of duty,” Biden said.
And when asked by a journalist if he had been evaluated for some kind of cognitive decline, Biden said, “I can’t wait to compare my cognitive ability with the cognitive ability of the man I’m running against.”
Biden’s speech brought together proposals he has issued in recent months, including calls to a national board to oversee a “massive increase” in coronavirus testing.
He framed most of his comments as speaking directly to Trump, urging the president to adopt Biden’s proposals immediately.
“You know that the steps you have taken so far have not done the job, Mr. President. Fix the shortage of PPE for our healthcare workers before starting another round of golf,” Biden said.
Biden’s plan includes offering free coronavirus testing to all Americans. It also requires hiring 100,000 people to form a national contact search workforce, as well as duplication of test drive sites.
It is also urging Trump to use the Defense Production Act to increase the production of protective equipment for health workers, test supplies, and other supplies.
His plan includes a series of steps designed to help businesses and schools reopen, including financial support to retain and rehire workers, build a best practices clearinghouse for schools, and ensure paid vacations for anyone with coronavirus or you are caring for someone with the virus.
Biden said he would call Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, shortly after he was declared the winner of the general election to ask him to remain in his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a position. Fauci has been around since 1984.
He also criticized the Trump administration for what it launched as a gradual state-by-state approach to whether and how businesses can reopen.
“We need real plans, real guidelines, with uniform standards at the national level, to help us plan for our economic reopening. What we have been doing now is not working. The state-by-state approach will only lead to confusion and slow progress,” he said.
Biden said there should be a federal guide “that everyone should wear a mask in public, period. Period.”
“Wear a mask. It’s not just about you. It’s about your family. It’s about your neighbors. It’s about your colleagues. It’s about keeping other people safe,” he said.
During his first question-and-answer session with reporters in months, Biden said he planned to announce his vice presidential candidate in early August, possibly later than the August 1 deadline he had previously set.
Journalists also asked Biden about the cultural battle over the removal of monuments. He made a distinction between former Confederate leaders, whom he said belonged to museums, and slave owners who played key roles in the founding of the United States, whose statues, he said, should remain in place.
“The idea of comparing whether George Washington owned slaves or Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and someone who was in rebellion, committing treason, trying to bring down a union to maintain slavery. I think there is a distinction there,” Biden said.
He said the statues of Christopher Columbus, Washington and Jefferson should be protected, even though “they may have things in the past that are now unpleasant.”
This story has been updated.