The last time Joe Biden went on The View, his performance was less-than-encouraging. A lot has changed since then.
Less than six weeks later, Biden is now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and the American people are grappling with a global pandemic. The former vice president has faced criticism over the past couple of weeks for ceding the national stage to President Donald Trump during the coronavirus crisis.
Appearing via his new makeshift TV studio in his Delaware basement, Biden used the opportunity Tuesday morning to speak directly to the type of suburban women voters he will need on his side to defeat Trump in November. Under widespread quarantine, those voters are now a captive audience.
The show was a bit low on hosts with both Joy Behar and the newly pregnant Meghan McCain self-quarantining at home. So it was left to Whoopi Goldberg, Sunny Hostin, and Sara Haines to question the former vice president.
After breaking down how busy he’s been in semi-isolation during the crisis, Biden said that the “number one” thing he’s “most concerned” about is “misinformation.”
“Listen to the scientists. Listen to the doctors. Listen to what they have to say,” Biden said. “And I would respectfully suggest that you should have Dr. Fauci on a lot more than the president, or anyone who's not an expert like Fauci, laying out exactly what's going on.” Those comments come after a report that Trump is “losing his patience” with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become the face of the national response effort.
“We can beat this,” he added encouragingly. “We can get through this.”
Earlier in the show, the hosts went off on both Trump and Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for comments that seem to value getting the economy back up and running over the health and safety of the American people. “This is crazy,” Goldberg said of Trump’s most recent press conference while Hostin called Patrick’s appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show “despicable and disgusting.”
“This is America. We can save our grandparents if we just stay at home. That is not too much to ask for,” Hostin added. “Our president should be more concerned about the lives of Americans rather than lining his own pockets, and I think that's what this is really about.”
When Biden was asked how he responds to Trump’s assertion that he doesn’t want the “cure” to be “worse than the problem itself,” he said “we have to take care of the cure” or the problem will only get worse. He talked about “flattening the curve” and said the focus should be on getting medical professionals the testing and protective gear they need.
“We should be focusing on surging data, surging equipment, surging testing, surging all this information and all this capability around the country,” Biden said. “That's the first and foremost thing we should be doing instead of waiting around.” He added one word: “Urgency.”
Biden also explained his effort to counter Trump’s misinformation. “The American people can handle the truth,” he said. “But what they can't handle is something that's not true, that they believe in a moment and then they find out is not true. They lose confidence. The president has to be instilling confidence in the American people that we know how to deal with this virus and we know how to deal with this crisis as well as the economic side of it.”
He pushed Trump to “continue the road we’re on” in terms of social distancing and not reverse course for the sake of the economy. “I don't agree with the notion that somehow it's OK to let people die—and I'm not sure that would happen—to make sure the economy is there for our kids.”
“We have the strongest, most vital, most vibrant economy in the world,” Biden continued. “We can bounce back, but we need workers to bounce back. We need small businesses to bounce back. We need people being able to take care of their immediate needs. People are scared to death.”
And yet despite all of his commentary about the administration’s response, Biden insisted later that it is not his intention to “criticize” the president during this crisis.
“I've not been criticizing the president, but I've been pointing out where there's disagreement as to how to proceed,” he said. “The coronavirus is not his fault, but the lack of speed and alacrity with which to respond to it has to move much faster. This is not about Democrat or Republican. This is not about what your party is. It's about getting through this.”
“And the American people don't want us in a political fight and I want no part of a political fight either,” he said, “but when the president says things that, in fact, turn out not to be accurate, we should not say, ‘you're lying,’ we should say, ‘Mr. President, that's not the fact, here's the deal.’” He went so far as to give Trump the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he “didn’t know” testing wasn’t widely available when he promised that any American who wanted a test could get a test.
That reluctance to call Trump a “liar” may appeal to the elusive “swing” voters who don’t want a “political fight,” but it is unlikely to convince the Bernie Sanders supporters Biden will also need in November.
“I hear them,” he said on The View, pointing out the ways in which he’s moved to the left, adopting elements of Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s platforms. “I hear what some of his supporters are saying and I'm prepared to and I have moved on some of it. So I hope we can bring it all together. That's my expectation.”