Biden Says Trump ‘Waved the White Flag’

Joe Biden lays out his plan to confront the virus, while Fauci predicts a “very disturbing” rise in cases. It’s Wednesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

  • Joe Biden went after President Trump aggressively in a nationally televised speech yesterday addressing the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the president had failed to confront the outbreak on virtually every level. Speaking to reporters in a high school gym in Wilmington, Del., Biden presented himself as a cleareyed leader who would take the virus’s threat seriously and would carry out an ambitious federal plan to contain it.

  • “It seems like our wartime president has surrendered and waved the white flag, and left the battlefield,” Biden said of Trump. “Today we’re facing a serious threat and we have to meet it. We have to meet it as one country. The president gives no direction, and he pits us against one another. We can’t continue like this: half recovery and half getting worse.”

  • Biden highlighted a new proposal that builds upon the recommendations he issued in March. The plan emphasizes increased federal support for testing and virus tracing, personal protective equipment supplies, vaccine development and national standards for reopening the economy.

  • Biden’s address came amid a national surge of virus cases — one that has the country’s top scientists sounding an alarm. Testifying before the Senate yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that he “would not be surprised” if the United States started seeing a rate of 100,000 new cases each day, up from about 40,000 now.

  • “It is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that,” Fauci said, “because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country they are doing well, they are very vulnerable.”

  • At a House hearing, Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, told lawmakers that the economy would probably not be able to recover until public safety was assured. “A full recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities,” he said. A big resurgence of cases, he added, might “undermine public confidence, which is what we need to get back to lots of kinds of economic activity that involve crowds.”

  • Late yesterday evening, the Senate approved a bill to extend the application period for its business-relief program, which was set to expire today but still has $130 billion left to spend. The legislation, which the House must still approve, gives businesses five additional weeks to apply for loans to help them meet their payrolls.

  • When The New York Times reported last week that President Trump had been briefed months ago on Russian bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan, he denied it. But as new evidence has emerged, Trump’s opponents have turned up the heat on him to explain why he did not take decisive action to retaliate or stop Russia.

  • He was provided with a written memo in February with intelligence suggesting that Russia had been paying Taliban-linked fighters rewards for their attacks on United States and coalition troops, officials said. A separate Times report published yesterday found that American intelligence officials had intercepted data showing payments to a Taliban-linked bank account coming from an account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency.

  • In remarks to reporters yesterday, Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, criticized Trump’s lack of an explanation. “I find it inexplicable, in light of these very public allegations, that the president hasn’t come before the country and assured the American people that he will get to the bottom of whether Russians are putting a bounty on the heads of American troops, and that he will do everything in his power to make sure that we protect American troops,” Schiff said.

  • “I do not understand for a moment why the president isn’t saying this to the American people right now, and is relying on, ‘I don’t know, I haven’t heard, I haven’t been briefed,’” Schiff added.

  • Amy McGrath can now return to the race she’s been running all along: against Mitch McConnell. McGrath’s well-heeled, establishment-backed campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination in Kentucky hit rocky waters a little over a month ago, as her progressive opponent, Charles Booker, mounted an 11th-hour surge. But when the last major batch of results came in yesterday, a week after the election, the moderate McGrath had eked out a narrow primary victory.

  • A number of Democratic primaries with similar intraparty dynamics played out last week in New York, but results there are even slower in coming. Officials said yesterday they wouldn’t begin counting all the absentee ballots cast until next week.

  • Three states held primaries yesterday: Oklahoma, Colorado and Utah. Results from most of them were slow to come in last night, with the coronavirus complicating the voting process.

  • But in Colorado, John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, was able to secure the Democratic Senate nomination after an unexpectedly difficult race against a progressive rival. Hickenlooper will now face an unpopular Republican incumbent, Cory Gardner, in what’s sure to be a hotly contested race. A Democratic super PAC has already spent $8.3 million on TV ads defending him from Republican attacks. Also, in deep-red Oklahoma, voters narrowly approved expanding Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income adults.

  • Another former governor, Jon Huntsman, was running a tough primary campaign in Utah — but in this case he’s a Republican, and he’s seeking to regain his old governorship. The moderate Huntsman, who served as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama, is viewed with suspicion by many Republican primary voters, and he was facing a formidable opponent in Spencer Cox, the lieutenant governor.

Joe Biden answered questions from reporters yesterday at Alexis duPont High School in Wilmington, Del.

It’s July 1, 2020. The coronavirus is still storming across the country, even as the president continues to insist that he has the situation under control.

For many Americans, it’s sinking in that worry-free, in-person gatherings may not be realistic for another year or so. Millions have lost work because of the pandemic, and the unemployment rate is stuck in double digits. Many of those who do still have jobs regularly put their lives at risk just by doing them.

Arguably the timeliest thing you could do these days would be to head out into the streets and shout your dissatisfaction with the way things are, as Americans have been doing by the tens of thousands since late spring.

So should we really be surprised by the results of a Pew Research Center poll published yesterday? In it, 87 percent of Americans said they were dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country — the highest number since Pew started asking the question six years ago. Seven in 10 said they were angry about the state of the country.

Just 17 percent of respondents said the way things were going in America made them feel proud.

And that frustration carried over into views of Trump, whose approval rating sank to 39 percent — its lowest number in a Pew poll in over a year.

In a head-to-head matchup, Biden led Trump among registered voters, 54 to 44 percent, consistent with the results of other recent surveys, which have shown an uptick in support for the presumptive Democratic nominee. But it’s clear that as a disaffected population considers its options in November’s presidential election, very few see the Democratic candidate as a hero prepared to lead them from Babylon.

By two to one, Biden’s supporters tended to say they were more interested in voting against Trump than in voting for Biden. And just 6 percent of voters said they expected Biden to be a great president; most said he would be either “good” or “average.” Even among Biden’s own backers, just 11 percent said they expected a “great” presidency.

Asked about a range of six personal characteristics, voters tended to give Biden more positive marks than Trump on most, including even-temperedness and being a good role model.

But in a country that remains deeply polarized — even amid the great equalizer of a pandemic — Biden received positive rankings from a majority of voters on only one of the six: caring “about the needs of ordinary people.”

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