For more than a week how, Joe Biden has been remarkably sanguine about Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the presidential election results, deciding, for the most part, not to respond directly to Trump’s delusional tweets that he won a second term of office.
That ended on Monday.
At a press conference during which Biden discussed his plans to address the economic challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, the new president-elect said that not only was Trump’s continual denial of the election outcome “embarrassing for the country,” but that his refusal to allow the transition process to take place was putting American lives in danger.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” an unusually feisty Biden told reporters, criticizing Trump for withholding crucial information that he said would help the incoming administration combat the coronavirus pandemic and distribute the vaccine once it becomes available. “They say they have this ‘warp speed’ program,” he added, referring to the Trump administration’s vaccine development program, nicknamed Operation Warp Speed. “If we have to wait until Jan. 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind.”
Q: "What do you see as the biggest threat to your transition right now given President Trump's unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power?"
President-Elect Biden: "More people may die if we don't coordinate."
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 16, 2020
And Biden, who was joined by vice president-elect Kamala Harris, again warned that the vaccine was months away, at the earliest, and that vigilance was still needed. “We’re going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier,” Biden said. “That requires sparing no effort to fight Covid. So that we can open our businesses safely, resume our lives and put this pandemic behind us. It’s going to be difficult, but it can be done.”
In discussing Trump’s refusal to concede, Biden said it was “no change in his modus operandi,” adding, “I find this more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started.” Biden that he was already speaking to world leaders, many of whom have called to congratulate him, and “so we we are moving along knowing what the outcome will be.”
Biden urged Congress to pass a second economic stimulus package, saying it was time that both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives find common ground on a bill that has been stalled for weeks. “For millions of Americans who’ve lost hours and wages or have lost jobs, we can deliver immediate relief and it need be done quickly,” Biden said. “Congress should come together and pass a Covid relief package.”
In terms of the response to the pandemic, Biden praised Republican governors who have required their states’ citizens to wear masks, singling out North Dakota’s Doug Burgum, Utah’s Gary Herbert and Ohio’s Mike DeWine. (Surely it was no coincidence that later Monday afternoon, Trump tweeted about the upcoming governor’s race in Ohio, saying, “Who will be running for Governor of the Great State of Ohio? Will be hotly contested!”)
And the president-elect sharply criticized Trump’s controversial coronavirus adviser, Scott Atlas, for urging people to “rise up” against governors’ mask mandates, particularly those issued by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, already the target of a kidnap attempt thwarted by the FBI earlier this year.
“What the hell’s the matter with these guys? What is the matter with them? Resist?” Biden said. Holding up the mask he had worn to the podium, Biden said: “Does anybody understand why a governor would turn this into a political statement? It’s about patriotism.”
Biden also sharply criticized the president for his inattention to the growing coronavirus crisis, which has suddenly spiked again, with record new infections and states across the country considering imposing renewed lockdowns. “The idea the President is still playing golf and not doing anything about it is beyond my comprehension,” Biden said.