Biden seeks contrast with Trump after aide tests positive for COVID-19
Team Biden is seeking to draw another contrast with President Trump on COVID-19 by highlighting how they’re handling two campaign coronavirus cases disclosed Thursday.
After top aides to Democratic nominee Joe Biden were notified late Wednesday about positive tests for two members of Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) traveling entourage — her communications director and a flight crew member on her plane — they say they did exactly what they’ve been preaching all along.
“We followed the guidelines,” one longtime Biden ally said. “It’s exactly how things should be handled. The Trump White House should take copious notes.”
On Thursday, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon credited the campaign’s “rigorous protocols and testing” for identifying the two COVID-19 cases.
“We always follow local guidelines, not just with where we’re traveling but what the footprints of our events look like,” O’Malley Dillon said. “The most important element is ensuring no one is in harm’s way and we’ll continue to do that.”
The Biden campaign for months has hammered Trump over his handling of the pandemic, blaming him for failing to contain a virus that has now killed more than 215,000 people in the U.S. and infected millions.
The White House itself became the site of a COVID-19 outbreak, with the nation’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci calling the Sept. 26 ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett a superspreader event. Trump and many of his top aides later tested positive for the coronavirus, and the White House came under criticism for not initiating robust contact-tracing efforts.
O’Malley Dillon and other allies on Thursday said Biden would continue to travel as planned and would not be sidelined because of the two positive cases, noting that neither of the infected individuals were in close contact, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with Harris or Biden in the 48 hour period prior to their positive tests.
But out of an abundance of caution, the campaign said it was canceling travel for Harris. On Thursday, the Democratic vice presidential nominee — who was off the campaign trail this week because of the confirmation hearings for Barrett — was set to travel to the battleground state of North Carolina, where she was expected to make stops in Asheville and Charlotte.
And on Friday, she was set to travel to Cleveland, with Democrats looking to win back Ohio for the first time since 2012. In an interview with MSNBC’S Rachel Maddow on Wednesday evening, Harris said she would be traveling to Pennsylvania and had plans to travel to Texas in the coming days.
The campaign also postponed travel for Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, who was expected to travel to Minnesota on Thursday. Emhoff did not have contact with either member of Harris’s entourage. He is expected to resume travel on Friday.
Biden allies said canceling the trips highlighted the campaign’s health protocols. They have frequently touted the precautions they have taken during the campaign, first to keep Biden sidelined and then to have socially distant events which differ from Trump’s events with jam-packed crowds.
If anything, a second Biden ally said, the two COVID-19 cases prove the campaign had taken the right approach.
“The polls show people appreciate the VP’s approach to the pandemic,” the Biden ally said. “What Trump is doing runs counter to everything we’ve been hearing from the public.”
An Associated Press-NORC poll out on Thursday found that 65 percent of Americans say Trump has not taken the pandemic seriously enough. At the same time, the survey — taken a week after Trump said he had tested positive for COVID-19 — revealed that 54 percent of respondents disapproved of how the White House dealt with its own outbreak.
In a Thursday interview on Fox Business, Trump, who is back on the road after his bout with the disease, ripped Biden for his small crowds.
“Joe doesn’t have rallies because nobody shows up to his rallies, so he doesn’t have the same problem,” he said.