Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, the former vice president said Trump is “in retreat” as more than 126,000 Americans have died from the virus. 

Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, slammed President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in remarks on Tuesday, as recent cases continue to spike across the country.

In a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, the former vice president said Trump is “in retreat” as more than 126,000 Americans have died from the virus. 

Recounting Trump in March declaring himself a “wartime president” in battling what he’s often called the “invisible enemy,” Biden said: “What happened? Now it’s almost July, and it seems like our wartime president has surrendered … waved the white flag and left the battlefield.” 

Biden’s remarks come off the heels of recent polls that show a growing lead over Trump in several key swing states. In his proposed coronavirus response plan, the 77-year-old calls for free COVID-19 testing for all Americans and urges the president to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of PPE for frontline workers. Biden also proposed hiring 100,000 people to form a national contact tracing workforce and doubling drive-through testing sites. 

“You know the steps you’ve taken so far haven’t gotten the job done, Mr. President. Fix the shortage of PPE for our health care workers before you tee off another round of golf,” Biden said.

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He also criticized the Trump administration’s hands-off approach to reopening the economy.

“We need real plans, real guidelines, with uniform, nationwide standards, to help us chart our economic re-opening. Whatever we’ve been doing now is not working. The state-by-state approach will only produce confusion and slow any progress,” Biden said.

Biden also said there should be federal guidance “that everyone needs to wear a mask in public, period. Period.”

“Wear a mask. It’s not just about you. It’s about your family. It’s about your neighbors. It’s about your colleagues. It’s about keeping other people safe,” he said.

Ahead of his Tuesday address, Biden said he would call Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, shortly after winning the general election to ask him to remain on in his position of director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has held this position since 1984.

The former vice president took more blows at the current president claiming he either failed to read or forgot information in his daily briefings delivered to him. The White House has denied Trump was “personally briefed” on reports of Russia offering bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan. 

“If he wasn’t briefed, it was a dereliction of duty. And if he was briefed and he didn’t do anything—that’s a dereliction of duty,” Biden said.

Biden said Tuesday that he has not had a classified briefing on the material or on Trump’s handling of it, but he said he may request one soon. Major party nominees receive daily intelligence briefings, but Biden is not yet the official nominee, and he noted that he no longer has access to the same classified information that he could regularly review during his two terms as vice president.

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Alluding to that experience, Biden said Trump “at a minimum” should have called the Joint Chiefs of Staff together with other national security leaders and pushed to reconcile any discrepancies in the intelligence and draw a firm conclusion. And he said, were he president, he would call Russian President Vladimir Putin and say, “Vladimir, old buddy, if any of this is true … you’ve got a big problem.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.