"We have just reached a very sad milestone," the president tweeted while Biden eulogized the dead in a video: "I know there's nothing I or anyone else can say or do to dull the sharpness of the pain"

By Sean Neumann
May 28, 2020 04:46 PM
Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and President Donald Trump
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty; Sarah Silbiger/Getty

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden this week acknowledged a sobering landmark in the nation's fight with the novel coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 people dead in America.

Trump tweeted and Biden posted a video eulogy.

The president, 73, called the staggering toll a "very sad milestone" in a statement via Twitter on Thursday morning.

Biden — whose oldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015 and whose toddler daughter and first wife were killed in a car crash in 1972 — released a eulogy addressing the families of the victims directly, telling them "from experience" that a day will come when their loved one's memory will "bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes."

"I'm so sorry for your loss," the former vice president, 77, said on Wednesday. "I know there's nothing I or anyone else can say or do to dull the sharpness of the pain you feel right now."

The contrast between the two politicians' memorial messages was picked apart and analyzed on cable news shows Wednesday night and Thursday morning, as Trump and Biden are all but locked in to run against each other in the November general election.

President Donald Trump (right) plays golf on Saturday
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump (center) participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore on Monday.
Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

The Trump administration's pandemic response has been heavily scrutinized, in part because he initially downplayed the virus. He was swiftly targeted by the Biden campaign after golfing over the weekend.

The president has differed from his own health officials over some recommendations, such as wearing masks or face coverings, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged since April.

Biden's message to coronavirus victims and their families on Wednesday drew from personal experience, as he noted.

The former vice president's first wife, Neilia, and their 13-month old daughter Naomi died in a '72 car wreck and son Beau was 46 when he died from cancer five years ago.

“I think I know what you’re feeling," Biden said in his memorial speech, adding, "You feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. It’s suffocating.”

Biden is no stranger to delivering eulogies, speaking at memorial services for late Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy.

From left: former Vice President Joe Biden and former Second Lady Jill Biden at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veteran's Memorial Park on Monday

Trump also ordered U.S. flags at federal government buildings and memorials to be flown at half-mast, a move that was also requested and supported by congressional Democrats.

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won," the president said during a March 29 press conference at the White House, likening the pandemic to a war. "That would be the greatest loss of all."

The front page of Sunday's New York Times featured the names and descriptions of 1,000 out of the 100,000 U.S. lives lost to the pandemic thus far — just 1 percent of the total figure.

The Times called the count, which they have been tracking for months, an "incalculable loss."

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