During the final debate with President Trump and Joe Biden, Trump demonstrated that Biden’s response to the pandemic would have been a disaster because he’s been many steps behind. He cited as an example the travel ban with China, which Biden opposed.
“When I closed, he said, ‘This is a terrible thing. You’re xenophobic.’ I think he called me racist, even, and—because I was closing it to China. Now, he says I should have closed it earlier. It just — Joe, it doesn’t work,” Trump said.
Biden denied opposing the travel ban and gave a poor explanation for what he meant by his xenophobic remark. But the truth is, Biden was against travel bans and did call Trump’s ban xenophobic.
Just a few days before the China travel ban was implemented, Biden decried “reactionary travel bans” in an op-ed in USA Today. Biden advisor Ron Klain said the idea of a travel ban was “premature.”
When the travel ban was implemented, Biden criticized the move during a campaign rally. “In moments like this, this is where the credibility of a president is most needed, as he explains what we should and should not do,” he said. “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, to uh, and fearmongering.”
Joe Biden opposed the China travel restrictions wisely put in place by President Trump in January – restrictions that health experts credit with slowing the spread of coronavirus & saving lives.
If Biden had been in charge, more Americans would have contracted the virus faster. pic.twitter.com/yDXRYl6lOk
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) March 12, 2020
The following day, he reiterated that sentiment in a tweet:
We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 1, 2020
But experts quickly realized that Trump’s decision was the right one, and credited it for saving lives. New York Times science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. noted that the Trump administration took “aggressive measures like barring entry to non-Americans who were recently in China and advising Americans not to go to China or South Korea,” and that this strategy worked, despite the fact that the World Health Organization officially opposed travel and trade restrictions, and reiterated that “even as it declared the epidemic a global emergency on Jan. 30.”
Republican Senator Tom Cotton said on Friday that “The single most consequential and valuable thing done to stop this virus from already spreading throughout the United States was when President Trump decided to shut down travel to China last month.” He also acknowledged that “the so-called experts who opposed the decision at the time” eventually admitted that it “bought valuable time to prevent the spread of this virus in the United States.”
It took months, well after experts said that the travel ban had saved thousands of American lives, for Joe Biden to finally flip-flop and support the travel ban.
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis