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Biden: Trump's coronavirus response has been 'nakedly xenophobic'

Biden: Trump's coronavirus response has been 'nakedly xenophobic'
© Greg Nash

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenRev. Barber says best way to undercut extremism is with honesty Biden requires international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to US Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 MORE on Monday accused President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE of “fanning the flames” of “hate, fear and xenophobia” against Asian Americans during the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking virtually to the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Victory Fund, Biden said the president had been slow to respond to the pandemic, and that he had only offered the public “denials, delays and distractions, many of which were nakedly xenophobic.”

“The pandemic has unleashed familiar forces of hate, fear and xenophobia that he always flames … that have always existed in this society,” Biden said. “But this president brought it with him, has brought with it a new rash of racial messages, verbal and physical attacks and other acts of hate, some subtle, some overt, against the Asian American and Pacific Islanders.”

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In late January, the Trump administration implemented a travel restriction from China, where the coronavirus originated.

Some on the left described the move as a racist or xenophobic ploy aimed at punishing a country that Trump has clashed with over trade.

Republicans say Trump has been proven right, as questions have been raised about when China first knew about the extent of the outbreak and whether they took steps to keep it a secret.

But Democrats say there has been a spike in anti-Asian American sentiment because of Trump’s rhetoric toward China.

Biden pointed to Republicans criticizing Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 On The Money: Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief | Biden faces backlash over debt | 900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits MORE (D-Calif.) for touring businesses in San Francisco’s Chinatown in late February and Trump’s exchange with an Asian reporter in the Rose Garden last week as evidence of his animosity toward the AAPI community.

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“The AAPI community deserves better than a president who never ever misses an opportunity to stoke innuendo and fan the flames of hate,” Biden said.

“We deserve better than a president who attacks the Speaker of the House for visiting a local Chinatown business in San Francisco. We deserve better than a president who aggressively and childishly insults Asian American reporter. Think of that, the president of the U.S. for the whole world to see, insults an Asian American reporter in the Rose Garden for doing her job and asking a direct question. You deserve a partner and a friend in the White House.”

Pelosi was criticized on the right for encouraging people to go out to businesses in San Francisco’s Chinatown shortly before many states implemented stay-at-home orders.

"I'm here," Pelosi said at the time. "We feel safe and sound with so many of us coming here. It's not only to say it's safe but to say thank you for being Chinatown."

At a Rose Garden event last week, Trump said the U.S. is performing better than many other countries in regard to testing for the coronavirus.

CBS news correspondent Weijia Jiang responded: “Why does that matter? Why is this a global competition when every day Americans are still losing their lives?”

“They’re losing their lives everywhere in the world,” Trump responded. “And maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, OK?”

Jiang asked Trump why he made that comment to her specifically.

“I am not saying it specifically to anybody,” Trump said. “I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that.”