Biden and Trump Speak About Coronavirus


Joseph R. Biden Jr. and President Trump spoke on Monday about the coronavirus pandemic, a rare direct conversation between the incumbent president and his likely Democratic challenger.

Mr. Biden, who has been harshly critical of Mr. Trump’s handling of the crisis, had offered to speak with Mr. Trump in recent days. The two connected after Mr. Biden’s team renewed efforts to reach out to the White House on Monday after a tweet by Mr. Trump that read, “What ever happened to that phone call he told the Fake News he wanted to make to me?”

At the White House on Monday evening, Mr. Trump called it a “really wonderful, warm conversation.”

“We just had a very friendly conversation,” the president said. “Lasted probably 15 minutes. And it was really good, it was really good, really nice. I appreciate his calling.”

Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager for Mr. Biden, also called it a “good call.”

Ms. Bedingfield said that Mr. Biden “shared several suggestions for actions the administration can take now to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and expressed his appreciation for the spirit of the American people in meeting the challenges facing the nation.”

The two camps had both suggested willingness to make the unusual call happen. Mr. Trump said last week that he would “love” to take Mr. Biden’s call, saying that he had “always found him to be a nice guy.”

“If he’d like to call, I would absolutely take his call,” he had said. “OK? You can tell him.”

Their conversation came as Mr. Biden has sought to find ways to communicate with voters virtually from his home in the Wilmington, Del., area, though he has often found himself overshadowed by the bully pulpit of the presidency.

In a brief virtual news conference with reporters last week, Mr. Biden said that if he spoke with Mr. Trump, “it won’t be, ‘I told you so, Mr. President.’”

The intention, he said, would be to share his recommendations for combating the virus and to discuss his own experience dealing with other crises. The Ebola outbreak, for example, happened during the Obama administration.

“This is beyond politics right now,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re talking about a lot of people potentially dying. And we’re now leading the world in the number of cases. And we’ve got to act more swiftly, more rapidly. And, you know, we’ve been through this, in a slightly different way, in the past. And I hope they can learn some lessons from what we did right and maybe what we did wrong.”

Katie Glueck, Thomas Kaplan and Annie Karni contributed reporting.





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