Joe Biden on Tuesday held his first press conference in 89 days, Fox News reports. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee first gave a stump speech on how he would handle the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Post reports, but the 15 questions he then answered over a 30-minute period also touched on other recent controversies and headlines. While Biden has given a number of interviews over the past three months, this was the first time since the coronavirus pandemic changed the shape of the campaign that he has taken questions from reporters in such a setting, a fact that has been criticized by President Trump and his team. A small group of journalists attended, socially distanced, inside a high school gymnasium in Wilmington, Del., the Hill reports. Some quotes from Biden, including at least one that could prove controversial:
- On COVID-19: The former VP said the US is no better prepared now than we were in March. "It’s almost July and it seems our wartime president has surrendered, waved the white flag, and abandoned the battlefield. We don’t need a cheerleader, Mr. President. We need a president, Mr. President."
- On bounties Russia allegedly placed on US troops: "The idea that somehow [Trump] didn’t know is a dereliction of duty if that’s the case,” he said, referring to Trump's assertion that he was not briefed on the plot before it was revealed publicly in recent days. "And if he was briefed and he didn’t do anything about it that is a dereliction of duty."
- On controversial monuments: Monuments to Confederate leaders should be removed by local officials, peacefully, and placed in museums rather than in public spaces, he said. However, other controversial past leaders should be dealt with differently: "I think with regard to those statues and monuments, like the Jefferson Memorial, there’s an obligation that the government protect those monuments because they’re different,” Biden said. “That’s a remembrance. It’s not dealing with revering somebody who had that view. They had much broader views. They may have had things in their past that were now and then distasteful, but that’s a judgment." The Hill notes that stance may not sit well with activists in the Democratic party.
- On lists he's making: Biden said he's making a list of black female candidates he could nominate to the Supreme Court, and that his team is vetting black, Latino, and Asian women as VP options. He'll reveal his running mate several weeks before the Democratic convention in August, he said.
- One take: "His answers were not always clear, and there were some awkward moments that drew attention to his age," the Hill notes. Biden actually addressed that in response to a question about his cognitive ability: "I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive ability to the cognitive ability of the man I’m running against," he said, though he also called the reporter, who asked if Biden had been tested for cognitive decline, a "lying dog face."
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