WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Democratic presidential front runner Joe Biden is willing to call US President Donald Trump to offer ideas on combating coronavirus, his campaign said in response to a top White House official who complained the administration hadn’t heard any suggestions from the former vice-president.
“Why doesn’t vice-president Biden call the White House today and offer some support? He’s in his bunker in Wilmington,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday (April 1) on Fox News, referring to the makeshift television studio Mr Biden’s campaign scrambled to build in his Delaware home.
The Biden campaign said the candidate is prepared to make the call.
“Vice-president Biden has been extending his advice for months, and he did so again on the air last night,” Mr Biden deputy communications director Kate Bedingfield said in a statement responding to Ms Conway.
Mr Trump said at a press briefing Wednesday he’d “absolutely” take Mr Biden’s call.
“Oh absolutely, I’d love to speak with him,” the president said. “I think he’s probably a nice guy.”
Appearing on MSNBC appeared Tuesday night, Mr Biden spoke about what he described as Mr Trump’s “responsibility” to do more, including to ramp up the use of the Defence Production Act.
He also said it would be “wise” for Mr Trump to speak with former President Barack Obama, whose administration oversaw the response to the 2014 ebola outbreak.
But Mr Biden said he didn’t think Mr Trump wanted advice.
“I don’t get a sense that the president wants to hear from anybody. It’s all about, like, asking governors to thank him for what he’s doing as president? Come on. What is this all about?” Mr Biden said.
Ms Conway said the criticism was “disappointing” to hear.
“I think the critics and the naysayers seem so much more small and so much more small and unhelpful and petty than they ever have,” she said.
Mr Biden has given a series of speeches and TV interviews in which he called Mr Trump’s virus response insufficient and urged him to take more drastic steps like ordering companies to manufacture much-needed medical equipment. The former vice-president has also released a response plan that calls for free testing and expanded emergency family leave, among other steps.
“Donald Trump is not accountable for coronavirus itself – but he is accountable for the federal government’s slow and chaotic response to this outbreak,” Ms Bedingfield said. “Unfortunately, Trump spent months after the virus was discovered disregarding repeated warnings from his scientific and intelligence experts, and downplaying the threat of this outbreak to the American people. He could have heeded Vice-President Biden’s public advice not to take China’s word as they misled the world about their efforts to stop the spread.”