It’s his first in a long time….
And his handlers didn’t seem to know he was gonna do it….
Joe Biden made the short drive from his now-famous basement, jogged into the high school gym where he usually votes and excoriated President Donald Trump as failing miserably to protect the health and safety of Americans.
Then, after laying out his own plan to slow the coronavirus, the presumptive Democratic nominee made what now amounts to news in this bizarre election: He opened the floor to questions from reporters, waving off aides when they tried to cut him off and marveling at how strange this has all become.
“This is the most unusual campaign, I think, in modern history,” Biden told a small group of reporters seated inside large white circles traced on the gym floor. Biden reiterated his doctor’s orders that he stay close to home and not host too many events.
It had been nearly three months since he held his last news conference, and that one took place in a choppy virtual setting. In his absence, Biden has faced relentless badgering from the president and his allies, who accused him of hiding out at home and challenged his mental acuity. On Tuesday, Trump’s campaign took credit for smoking out the former vice president. But whatever fire they were hoping would consume him didn’t seem to catch.
“You’re a lyin’ dog,” Biden smirked when a Fox producer promised it would be his last inquiry. The producer allowed that, at 65 years old, he himself sometimes loses his train of thought. “You’ve got 12 years on me, sir,” he said. “Have you been tested for some degree of cognitive decline?”
Biden, who can grow defensive when challenged, took another approach.
“I’ve been tested, and I’m constantly tested,” he said. “I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”
Biden couldn’t have picked a more fortuitous time to reemerge. His 20-minute speech tearing into Trump for mishandling the coronavirus was carried live by all three cable networks. So too was his 30-minute question-and-answer session, which came moments after Anthony Fauci warned that daily new cases of the virus could surpass 100,000. If that wasn’t fodder enough for the Democrat, reports that Russia offered bounties for killing U.S. troops — and questions about what Trump did or didn’t know about it — have consumed the White House for days.
Against that backdrop, Biden parried 16 questions from seven reporters, including three from Fox News.
Biden said he had yet to receive intelligence briefings as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee but that he may request a classified briefing on the Afghanistan matter.
He also appeared to commit to releasing a shortlist of potential Black, female Supreme Court nominees ahead of November’s general election.
Asked at another point whether he’s preparing to debate Trump, Biden said, “I can hardly wait.”….
Biden’s strongest moments on Tuesday came when he pivoted to personal stories about his family.
Biden said he was struck by his wife, Jill Biden, asking him how he would feel if he had found out that the president had ignored a Russian bounty on U.S. soldiers at a time when their son Beau Biden was in the Army. Beau Biden, a former Army officer, died of brain cancer in 2015.
“I don’t see [Jill] get outraged very often,” Joe Biden said. “She said, what would you do Joe? What are those parents thinking out there? What are those sons and daughters, husbands and wives? It’s an absolute dereliction of duty.”
Later, he talked about how his daughter had been tested twice for the coronavirus after leaving Florida, where she had been doing social work.
The former vice president on Tuesday also reiterated his commitment to putting Black women in positions of power.
He said he is putting together a list of Black, female candidates to be on the Supreme Court.
“We are putting together a list of a group of African American women who are qualified and have the experience to be in the court,” he said. “I am not going to release that until we go further down the line of vetting them as well.”
He also said the campaign is vetting Black, Latino and Asian women as part of its search for a running mate. The vice presidential announcement will come sometime before the Democratic presidential convention in mid-August….