Joe Biden held his first virtual press conference with reporters on Wednesday, and while he used the opportunity to criticize President Donald Trump for a slow response to the coronavirus crisis, he also chimed in on an issue that has faded from the headlines — the Democratic primary.
Asked by a reporter if he planned to participate in an April Democratic debate with Sanders, Biden said, “My focus is just dealing with this crisis right now. I haven’t thought about any more debates. I think we’ve had enough debates. I think we should get on with this.”
Biden holds a significant delegate lead over rival Bernie Sanders, but Sanders has not signaled that he plans to withdraw. While Sanders, too, has been holding events tied to the crisis, a campaign official told The New York Times that if there is a debate next month, he plans to be there.
The Democratic National Committee has not scheduled a debate, nor has it said that it would not sanction any new ones. Last cycle, as the primary extended well into the spring, the final debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was held on April 14, 2016.
Biden swept last week’s presidential primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, and now has a lead of about 300 delegates.
During his press conference, Biden was critical of Trump’s suggestion that social distancing guidelines should be eased soon and that he would like to see the country “opened up” by Easter. Biden said that he would make such decisions by thinking about “the science. Not the science of Wall Street. The science of medicine — what is it that is going to get us to a place where it is safe for people to go back to work and be interactive in a way that we did in the past, rather than set some arbitrary date.”
Biden has been trying to boost his visibility this week, in an effort to counter Trump’s dominance of the airwaves. From a makeshift studio set up at his Wilmington, DE, home, the former vice president was guest on The View, Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace and The Lead with Jake Tapper.
Biden told reporters that he is “finding out that the new technologies are quite effective.” He noted that when he laid out his coronavirus plan in a web streamed speech recently, it didn’t get a lot of traction on cable networks but it did generate large viewership on web platforms.