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Biden And Sanders Tear Into Trump Over Coronavirus Response

US Democratic presidential aspirants Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders criticised President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak during a Democratic debate on Sunday, offering competing visions of leadership during a widening crisis that has upended the daily lives of Americans.

In their first one-on-one debate, the last two Democratic contenders in the race to face Trump in the November election clashed on the proper approach to the pandemic and other pressing issues, with former Vice President Biden arguing his approach to leadership would get quick results and Vermont Senator Sanders pushing for bigger, more fundamental changes.

Both candidates berated Trump for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, saying he had contributed to growing worries by spending weeks minimising the threat before declaring a national emergency on Friday.

The debate, originally scheduled for Phoenix, took place in a Washington studio with no audience, a move made to limit possible exposure to the virus – a sign of how deeply the campaign routine has been reshaped by the global pandemic.

When the two men took the stage, they smiled and shared an elbow bump – abiding by the advice of public health officials to avoid handshakes.

Biden, the frontrunner, recounted his experience as serving in President Barack Obama’s administration in dealing with the Ebola outbreak in 2014. He laid out a coronavirus plan to make testing free and widely available, establish mobile sites and drive-through facilities in each state and provide more help for small businesses hurt by the resulting economic slowdown.

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He said he was willing to call out the military to help local officials build hospitals and take other necessary relief steps.

“This is like a war, and in a war, you do whatever needs to be done to take care of your people,” Biden said.

Sanders suggested the first step in responding to the outbreak would be “to shut this president up right now” because he was undermining the response of public health officials.

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