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A representative from the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden dodged a direct question from Fox News host Bret Baier about what the candidate would have done differently than President Donald Trump in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo resorted to accusing Baier and Fox News of “working overtime to try and find excuses for” the administration.
After Baier noted that Biden said he would not have closed off travel from China, he asked the Biden campaign national spokesman, “What specifically would the former vice president have done?”
“Well, let’s get a few things straight. The vice president was not against the travel ban, first of all,” Ducklo began. “Second of all, let’s remember…”
“He wasn’t?” Baier interjected.
“Uh, Bret, let’s remember an important distinction. Donald Trump was the president of the United States. It was on Donald Trump…”
“I’m asking you if Joe Biden was the president of the United States, if he was,” Baier interjected.
“It was on Donald Trump to take action,” Ducklo repeated.
“He closed the travel to China,” Baier interjected again.
“Joe Biden wrote an op-ed in USA Today in January warning that the threat was coming. Joe Biden said in February that Donald Trump should get people on the ground in China,” Ducklo continued.
“What did Donald Trump do? Donald Trump was praising China. Donald Trump was praising President Xi’s response, saying that they had it under control when clearly he knew, as we now know from Bob Woodward, they did not have it under control,” the Biden campaign spokesman added.
“He should have been protecting the American people. He should have been putting plans in place to actually confront this incredibly dangerous threat,” said Ducklo.
“Let me just clarify — you’re saying that Joe Biden was for closing down travel from China when the president did it?” Baier asked again.
“Joe Biden has been clear, and I can send you the fact checks if they’re helpful, Bret,” Ducklo dodged. “Joe Biden has been clear that he was not against that travel ban.”
“But he was for it?” Baier interjecting asking the direct question once more.
“Joe Biden has been clear about this Bret. Again, I can send you the fact checks if they’re helpful, this has been fact-checked into oblivion,” Ducklo repeated.
“Okay, I’m just asking you the question. You’re saying yes, he was for the China travel ban when the president implemented it…48 hours after receiving that briefing,” Baier said.
“The important thing about the travel ban…” Ducklo began.
“Yes or no?” Baier interjected.
“Bret, I know that you all like to cite the travel ban…” said Ducklo.
“No, no, no, the president does, that’s why I’m bringing it up,” Baier shot back. “Obviously, it’s gonna be in the debate.”
Ducklo then suggested that President Trump did not really put the ban in place.
“Hold on, Bret,” Ducklo said in response. “The important thing to know about the travel ban is that even after the president implemented that travel ban…or says that he implemented it, tens of thousands of people came in and out of the country.”
“Okay, I’m gonna take it that you’re not gonna answer that question, you’re gonna send me some fact checks,” an exasperated Baier said.
On the USA Today op-ed: Biden did write it; it was published Jan. 27, a few days before President Trump issued some travel restrictions to and from China Jan. 31. And he did criticize what he must have suspected was a coming travel ban.
Here is some of what Biden wrote:
He called President Barack Obama a “dope” and “incompetent” and railed against the evidence-based response our administration put in place — which quelled the crisis and saved hundreds of thousands of lives — in favor of reactionary travel bans that would only have made things worse. He advocated abandoning exposed and infected American citizens rather than bringing them home for treatment.
He also labeled the travel restrictions “xenophobia” the same day, saying at a campaign rally in Iowa: “We have, right now, a crisis with the coronavirus… This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia – hysterical xenophobia – and fear-mongering to lead the way instead of science.”
In March, when Trump extended the travel restrictions to Europe as the novel coronavirus spread across the continent, Biden said, “Banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it but as we’ve seen will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics, rather than risk, will be counterproductive.”
Also, CNN contributor and former State Department official Shahed Amanullah labeled the China travel restrictions “xenophobic,” demonstrating that Biden and the Left-wing media were on the same page in criticizing the president’s decision.
Finally, the president’s travel restrictions allowed for U.S. citizens to travel back and forth, as FactCheck.org reported.
Trump refused to put people on the ground in China: This is false.
As the BBC reports, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters in late January “that the US had offered on 6 January to send a team from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – an offer that was repeated later that month and in February.”
The outlet noted further: “Two US experts did get into China as part of a multinational delegation from the World Health Organization, which went in mid-February.”
Trump allowed tens of thousands of people into the U.S. after the ban: True. But the administration said the 40,000 or so who came were mostly U.S. citizens and others who were not covered under the restrictions, the BBC noted.
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