Faulting Donald Trump’s response to the warnings and ongoing threats of the coronavirus pandemic, Joe Biden delivered a sober address from his office in Delaware Monday after almost a week away from the public.
While the former vice-president is now highly-likely to be the Democratic nominee for president, the party’s primary elections, which had been a main focus of media attention until last week, have been put on momentary pause as the country grapples with an unprecedented health crisis. Several Democrats, including members of Biden’s own election team, have grown anxious over his lack of visibility over the last six days, particularly in light of Trump’s daily presence on TV screens for live press conferences about the crisis.
Reemerging via an internet live-stream, Biden explained in a sated tone that “Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus, but he does bear responsibility for our response, and I, along with every American, hope he steps up and starts to get this right.” While avoiding politicizing the health emergency, he attempted to highlight Trump’s shortcomings as a leader in this anxious time.
Biden’s absence from public view has evoked taunts in the Twittersphere, both from Trump supporters and from the far-left, who have used the hashtag #WhereIsJoe in recent days. His low profile has emphasized a real political risk for Democrats as the crisis rages on; even if President Trump’s messaging is flawed or misleading, he is still the main figure most Americans see each day responding to journalists’ inquiries and reporting on the government’s progress. He has even taken to calling himself a “wartime president.” Biden, meanwhile, has been conspicuously out of site.
But Biden’s team is now scrambling to draw America’s collective attention back to the presumed Democratic nominee. He will appear on The View on Tuesday, and is expected to make other media appearances as he tries to counter Trump’s overwhelming presence with a more composed demeanor and a long-term plan of action.
The present emergency, and the need for a leader with deep experience in government, plays into Biden’s strengths according to Robby Mook, a strategist who served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager for the 2016 presidential election. At this moment of national panic, Mook says it is “incredibly important for Biden to be part of the conversation.”
“Any time we’re talking about what it takes to be a commander-in-chief who has experience managing a national crisis,” Mook expressed to the New York Times, “that’s a really strong place for Biden to be.”