Joe Biden and Donald Trump competed for viewers’ attention at about the same time on Tuesday, as the president-elect held a summit to trumpet the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine.
MSNBC and CNN carried Biden’s remarks live, while Fox News went with Trump’s.
The major news was Biden’s plan for the first 100 days of his presidency, when he said that he would call for everyone to wear a mask and mandate it “where he can under the law,” including in federal buildings and on planes and buses; a goal to distribute 100 million shots in that time frame; and plans to open a majority of schools.
“I am absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better,” Biden said.
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He said that there was an urgency for Congress to take action to fund vaccine manufacture and distribution, faulting the Trump administration for planning an effort that “will slow and stall.”
“We need Congress to finish the bipartisan work underway now or millions of Americans may wait months longer to get the vaccine,” Biden said.
Biden’s event also was to introduce the new members of his health team, including California’s Secretary of State, Xavier Becerra, nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
Appearing via video at the Biden event was a holdover from the Trump administration: Dr. Anthony Fauci, who he has tapped as an adviser and to continue as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I have been through many health crises before, but this is the toughest one we have ever faced as a nation,” Fauci said.
Fauci, once a fixture at White House coronavirus briefings, was not mentioned by Trump at his event, meant to tout progress of Operation Warp Speed, the vaccine development program.
The president signed an executive order to ensure that “American citizens have first priority to receive American vaccines.” This was following an Associated Press report that the Trump administration did not secure a chance to purchase millions of doses of Pfizer’s vaccine last summer. Operation Warp Speed is the administration’s program to see a vaccine developed in a quick time frame.
“We harnessed the full power of government, the genius of American scientists and the might of American industry to save millions and millions of lives,” Trump said.
Trump was asked why no members of the incoming Biden administration were invited to the summit, and he replied, “We’re going to have to see who the next administration is, because we won in those swing states, and there were terrible things that went on.” He added that “hopefully the next administration will be the Trump administration.”
Trump continues to make unfounded claims that the election was rigged and stolen from him, but his legal team and supporters have lost dozens of cases challenging the results. Trump has tried to pressure state lawmakers to instead work to install his electors in advance of the Dec. 14 electoral college vote, even though results have been certified in favor of Biden in states like Georgia and Michigan.
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