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Vice President Joe Biden

Did Biden and Trump Talk About Anything Substantial?

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By Robert Safir

Joe Biden and President Trump had a phone call today. Did they discuss anything substantial? Did anyone take notes? Was it just a bunch of niceties or did they talk about anything substantial?

Some people are trying to decipher whether there was anything discussed beyond the coronavirus pandemic. Because Joe Biden is the most likely Democratic challenger to Trump, Biden floated the idea of a telephone call last week. At first, Trump accused Biden of spreading more fake news, because there weren’t any serious comments about where and when this phone call might take place.

Trump asked Monday on Twitter, “What ever happened to that phone call he told the Fake News he wanted to make to me?” and Biden responded that he was “happy to discuss anytime.”

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‘Really Good…a Good Call’

Giphy | Two Good Yogurt

President Donald Trump and his likely Democratic challenger Joe Biden spoke by telephone Monday about the coronavirus outbreak after the former vice president offered to share with the White House his ideas for combating the pandemic.

Both sides offered positive initial readouts of the 15-minute conversation, with Trump calling it “really good” and Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield describing it as a “good call.”

“We had a really wonderful, warm conversation. It was a very nice conversation,” Trump told reporters during his daily coronavirus briefing. Some in the press might have been expecting to hear “It was a perfect call,” but that didn’t happen.

Kellyanne Helped to Stir Things Up

Kellyanne Conway and Trump
Gettyimages | SAUL LOEB

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway first proposed the call last week. She stated that she’d heard only criticism from Biden about Trump’s management of the crisis.

So she said, “Why doesn’t Vice President Biden call the White House today and offer some support? He’s in his bunker in Wilmington,” Conway said on Fox News.

That certainly reads like a challenge. Vice President Biden likely took it that way, because by the time Monday rolled around, both Biden and Trump seemed ready to talk.

Not Enough Progress

Woman wearing PPE
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Biden has been fairly kind in his criticism of President Trump in the last couple of weeks. Biden admitted that Trump didn’t create the coronavirus pandemic, but he felt Trump didn’t react fast enough to the earlier known threats and warnings from experts after that.

For a while now, Biden has been urging Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act that harkens back to World War II to enable manufacturers to switch to war-related efforts. This would mean manufacturing such things as building ventilators and PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). Although Trump used the law in late March to convince General Motors to build ventilators, first responders continued to say that they didn’t have enough face shields, masks, and gowns. They wanted to President to do more.

Experience Counts

Obama and Biden
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In the past, Biden has also been concerned about how the Trump Administration will manage the $2 trillion in stimulus money. This was the money that Trump signed into law in late March. Biden has indicated that he has had actual experience as the point-person in charge of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act under former President Obama.

Biden spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said that he shared several suggestions for some actions the Trump Administration could now take to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Biden also expressed his appreciation for the spirit of the American people in dealing with the current challenges facing the nation.

Wonderful, Warm, and Nice

Warm fireplace
Unsplash | Hayden Scott

So what did President Trump think about the telephone call on Monday? He Said, “We had a really wonderful, warm conversation. It was a very nice conversation,” Trump said. “We talked about pretty much this — this is what we talked about. This is what everyone’s talking about.”

Trump said they spoke for about 15 minutes. “He gave me his point of view and I fully understood that. And we just had a very friendly conversation,” Trump said.

If the press were smart, they might ask Biden a few questions about the call. Did Biden make the call to maintain some visibility for his campaign? Did Biden make the call to reinforce his image as the apparent Democratic choice in the election? And, did Biden act very diplomatically so that the President would think of Joe as a “nice guy?” The President has made it very clear that he wants people to be ‘nice’ to him. Perhaps more details about the call will come out in the next few days.

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