Former Vice President Joe Biden now says he supports travel bans to contain the Chinese coronavirus after all, after he had previously called the China travel ban issued by President Donald Trump in late January “xenophobia.”
Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told CNN on April 3 that Biden “supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials and backed by a full strategy,” adding, “Science supported this ban, therefore he did too.”
Was that before or after looking at a poll that said Trump would do a better job dealing with this crisis than Biden? Asking for the potentially hundreds of thousands of American lives President Trump saved by acting decisively in the early days of this pandemic at a time Biden was hysterically complaining about what he called “reactionary” travel restrictions.
And why wasn’t Biden the first one explaining his new position on this issue? Why tell us now? And why lie to the American people, to pretend he was in favor of it all along when he never supported it at the time? Why not just admit he was wrong?
Biden not only didn’t support the ban, he explicitly opposed it, repeatedly, saying it was unscientific, even though it turns out it ultimately was backed up by the science. Which, you don’t need a medical degree to understand. It’s just common sense. Travel restrictions are just another form of social distancing from those traveling from the hotspot at the time, which was China, to prevent the American people from coming into contact with others who had been exposed to the virus, just as not going to work if you’re sick might.
On Jan. 27, Biden had an oped published in USA Today, perhaps anticipating the upcoming travel ban and blasted President Trump’s calls in 2014 for travel restrictions during the Ebola outbreak as “reactionary”.
Biden wrote, “I remember how Trump sought to stoke fear and stigma during the 2014 Ebola epidemic. He called President Barack Obama a ‘dope’ and ‘incompetent’ and railed against the evidence-based response our administration put in place — which quelled the crisis and saved hundreds of thousands of lives — in favor of reactionary travel bans that would only have made things worse.”
On Jan. 31, President Trump issued the travel restrictions from China.
On Feb. 1, a day after the travel restrictions were put into place by, Biden said in Iowa, “We have, right now, a crisis with the coronavirus… This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia — hysterical xenophobia — and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.”
Biden added, repeating a line from his USA Today oped: “Diseases have no borders, they have no borders.”
On March 12, the very same day President Trump implemented further travel restrictions on Europe, leaving little doubt about his thoughts on the travel ban, Biden said in a speech, “Banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it but as we’ve seen will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics, rather than risk, will be counterproductive.”
That might’ve been the first crack in Biden’s façade, when he first acknowledged that travel restrictions might slow the virus down. Still, he didn’t support the policy. As it turns out, slowing the virus down was exactly what President Trump’s policy did, buying valuable time for the U.S. to put in place mitigation and race to bring desperately sought medical supplies to areas of the country now experiencing surges of new cases and hospitalizations.
The same day, Biden tweeted similarly, “A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it…”
Is that so, Joe? Then why are the doctors telling those who are sick to stay inside? Why are patients at hospitals kept in separate rooms behind glass?
You know who wouldn’t stop the virus? Joe Biden, that’s who. We know Biden wouldn’t have done the travel ban in late January, because he told us every chance he got. He called it “reactionary,” “hysterical,” “xenophobic,” and “counterproductive.” All he has done up to this point is mock and deride President Trump’s efforts.
In fact, until Bedingfield told CNN that Biden now supported the travel restrictions, nobody in the world ever knew Biden had changed his position on the issue. Bedingfield said Biden’s “reference to xenophobia was about Trump’s long record of scapegoating others at a time when the virus was emerging from China,” but not a reference to the travel ban. Uh-huh.
Finally, on April 5, Biden completed his about face on the issue on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos, who must have simply forgotten to roll the video tape of Biden blasting the travel ban. Biden said, “[Trump] indicated that I complimented him on dealing with China. Well you know 45 nations had already moved to keep—to block China’s personnel from being able to come to the United States before the President moved. So it’s about pace, it’s about the urgency and I don’t think there’s been enough of it.”
Perhaps ABC or CNN should bring Biden back to explain all his other statements away, or even better, to point out a single statement made in January or February supporting the travel restrictions. You know, when they might’ve still made a difference.
Ironically, Biden added, “I think it’s important to follow the science. Listen to the experts. Do what they tell you.”
But if President Trump had done that, there might have been no travel ban from China at all. We’d still be taking flights from there. At the time, Trump was acting against the academic models, according to Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, who testified to the House Homeland Security Committee on March 11.
Cuccinelli stated, “Our understanding at the time we recommended it to the President and we had that discussion with him was that the academic model suggested not to do that. So, our advice was contrary to the then existing models as it was described in the task force. We made the recommendation anyway. The President was well aware of that sort of contrary indication and he adopted the recommendation and we universally now believe we tremendously benefitted from adopting those measures.”
It was Trump who proved whatever model said travel restrictions wouldn’t work wrong. Even Biden admitted, albeit a month and a half too late, that such a travel ban might slow the virus down.
That bought us time, time we would have never had if Biden had been president.
Leadership does not come in a text book. It’s not something you can look up. It requires instincts and an ability to take decisive action. In politics you don’t a second chance to act decisively. Trump acted decisively. Biden failed. Coming back in April and saying in hindsight it was a good idea is nice and all, but at best it makes Biden a Joey come lately on this issue. He should just admit he was wrong. To say he supported it all along is a monstrous lie.
On Feb. 1 when it mattered, Biden in Iowa said, “The American people need to have a president who they trust what he says about it [the virus].” That’s right, Joe. They really do.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.
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