President Donald Trump’s campaign jabbed back at former Vice President Joe Biden over his Friday comments about how the White House is handling the U.S. coronavirus pandemic, calling Biden’s remarks “ineffective partisan sniping” in a Friday statement.
During a conference call with members of the media, Biden claimed the president was “promising results he has not delivered and announcing actions that he has not even ordered.”
“He’s all over the map,” Biden said. “In a crisis we need leadership that is straightforward, clear and reliable.”
Biden also took Trump to task for his directive to state governors to attempt purchasing medical equipment needed in the fight against coronavirus outside of the federal government’s established supply chain.
“Don’t tell the governors to fend for themselves,” Biden said. “Step up and do your job.”
Trump’s campaign fired back at Biden’s remarks in a statement released Friday.
“The only thing Joe Biden knows about handling a public health crisis is that the Obama White House had to apologize for his remarks that set off a panic during the swine flu outbreak in 2009,” Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh wrote. “And when President Trump took the critical step of restricting travel from China in response to the coronavirus, Biden called it ‘xenophobic.'”
“Most of what Biden says the government should do are things President Trump is already doing,” the statement continued. “The President is leading an unprecedented mobilization of Americans against the coronavirus and all Joe Biden can offer is ineffective partisan sniping from the sidelines.”
Newsweek reached out to Biden’s campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
During the U.S. swine flu epidemic in 2009, Biden advised people not to travel in “confined places” such as airplanes to avoid exposure to the illness.
“I would tell members of my family—and I have—wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” Biden said on NBC’s Today program. “When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft.”
Obama’s press secretary Robert Biggs apologized for Biden’s remarks during a White House briefing saying, “If anybody was unduly alarmed for any reason, we would apologize for that.”
Trump has criticized the Obama administration’s overall reaction to the U.S. swine flu epidemic in 2009 which killed over 12,000 Americans.
“If you back and look at the swine flu, and what happened with the swine flu, you’ll see how many people died, and how actually nothing was done for such a long period of time, as people were dying all over the place,” Trump said in March. “We’re doing it the opposite. We’re very much ahead of everything.”
To that end, Trump has enacted the Defense Production Act (DPA) which would direct American manufacturers to begin building medical equipment. Democrats, including Biden, have called upon Trump to use the DPA to decrease the shortage of masks, ventilators and other personal protective equipment.
“We invoked it, I think, the day before,” Trump said at a Friday press conference. “We signed it the evening of the day before and invoked it yesterday. We have a lot of people working very hard to do ventilators and various other things.”
Some Democrats have claimed that Trump waited too long to invoke the DPA. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement Thursday asking the president to use the act “immediately.”
“There is not a day to lose,” Pelosi wrote. “We must put more testing, more protective equipment and more ventilators into the hands of our frontline workers immediately.”