Biden and Trump Speak About Coronavirus

The good vibes did not last long.

Mr. Trump’s campaign quickly emailed that “Sleepy Joe Biden has completely lost touch with the American People,” accusing him of pushing to raise taxes. Mr. Biden, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Trump’s response to the coronavirus had been slow. “Week after week, he downplayed the threat it posed, misled the American people, and failed to act,” he said.

Ahead of their brief conversation on Monday, the two camps had both suggested willingness to make the unusual call happen. Mr. Trump said last week that he would “love” to take Mr. Biden’s call, saying that he had “always found him to be a nice guy.”

“If he’d like to call I would absolutely take his call,” he had said. “OK? You can tell him.”

Their conversation came as Mr. Biden has sought to find ways to communicate with voters virtually from his home in the Wilmington, Del., area, though he has often found himself overshadowed by the bully pulpit of the presidency.

In a brief virtual news conference with reporters last week, Mr. Biden said that if he spoke with Mr. Trump, “it won’t be, ‘I told you so, Mr. President.’” The intention, he said, would be to share his recommendations for combating the virus and to discuss his own experience dealing with other crises. The Ebola outbreak, for example, happened during the Obama administration.

“This is beyond politics right now,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re talking about a lot of people potentially dying. And we’re now leading the world in the number of cases. And we’ve got to act more swiftly, more rapidly. And, you know, we’ve been through this, in a slightly different way, in the past. And I hope they can learn some lessons from what we did right and maybe what we did wrong.”

Katie Glueck and Annie Karni contributed reporting.

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