Former Vice President Joe Biden tore into President Donald Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday during the first presidential debate, accusing him of a passive approach that’s needlessly cost lives.
Biden hammered Trump for saying on multiple occasions,“it is what it is” when confronted with coronavirus death stats, telling Trump, “it is what it is because you are who you are.”
Trump shot back by calling Biden a “disaster” on the Obama administration’s response to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak and said “millions of people would have died” if Biden had been president during coronavirus.
But Biden welcomed the comparison, noting “14,000 people died, not 200,000” during the H1N1 outbreak and that “there was no economic recession… we didn’t shut down the economy,” adding, “this is his economy. He shut down.”
“A lot of people died,” Biden said, adding “a lot more” would die unless Trump gets “a lot smarter a lot quicker,” with Trump shooting back “don’t ever use the word smart with me” before pivoting to disparaging Biden’s academic record.
Biden criticized Trump for repeatedly promising that a vaccine will be available by the election, contradicting the top health officials in his administration, but Trump insisted he has “spoken to the scientists in charge” and said the U.S. will “have a vaccine very soon,” leading Biden to ask viewers, “do you believe for a moment what he’s telling you?”
“Responding to a question about covid with a petty insult about where Biden attended college is literally one of the worst debate answers in presidential history,” tweeted former Obama administration aid Tommy Vietor.
Biden sought to cast doubt on the veracity of Trump’s claim that a vaccine could be available as soon as October: “This is the same man who told you by Easter this would be gone away. By the warm weather it’d be gone … maybe you can inject some bleach in your arm,” with Trump shooting back that the disinfectant comment Biden referenced was “sarcastic, and you know that.”