Trump Says He Had a 'Friendly' Phone Call with Potential 2020 Opponent Joe Biden About Coronavirus
President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden confirmed on Monday that they talked about the government's COVID-19 response
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden had a “friendly conversation” on Monday about the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, the president said during his daily press briefing about the pandemic.
The Biden campaign confirmed to PEOPLE that the two leaders had a “good call.”
“[Joe Biden] shared several suggestions for actions the administration can take now to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and expressed his appreciation for the spirit of the American people in meeting the challenges facing the nation,” Biden’s Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
As the death toll passed 10,000 in the United States on Monday, Trump said he and Biden made an agreement not to disclose what they talked about in their 15-minute phone call.
“He had suggestions,” Trump, 73, said. “It doesn’t mean that I agree with those suggestions, but certainly he had suggestions.”
Reuters reported that Biden’s campaign had been working to set up the atypical phone call between the incumbent Republican president and his likely Democratic opponent since last week, and Trump told reporters he welcomed the call.
“Oh absolutely, I’d love to speak to him,” Trump said last week. “I always found him to be a nice guy.”
In the U.S., there have been more than 357,000 confirmed cases of the virus as of Monday afternoon, according to a New York Times tracker following the latest available data, and more than 10,000 have died in the U.S. due to complications of the virus.
The pandemic caused Trump, Biden and remaining Democratic candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to cancel all upcoming campaign rallies in mid-March, leaving the 2020 presidential campaign on a cliff-hanger as the primary race was finally narrowing to a conclusion.
Biden, 77, became the Democratic Party’s frontrunner after a surprising “Super Tuesday” comeback on March 3, winning 10 states and overtaking Sanders, 78, in the total delegate count and in national polling numbers after many deemed his campaign dead.
“I’m here to report: We are very much alive,” Biden proclaimed that night. “And make no mistake about it, this campaign will send Donald Trump packing.”
Pressure began to mount on Sanders to drop out of the race, as some political pundits began to draw parallels between 2020 and the 2016 election when the senator delayed dropping out of the race with eventual party nominee Hillary Clinton.
Sanders told View co-host Whoopi Goldberg last week that he was “assessing” the future of his campaign and that he intends to stay in the race for now.
Biden leads Sanders in the delegate count by a 1,215-909 margin. A candidate needs 1,991 total delegates to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention, which was postponed until August 17 due to the virus.
Trump said last week he has no plans to postpone the November 3 election over concerns about Americans gathering at polls.
Biden’s call with Trump also comes as the president’s administration faces mounting criticism over its slow response to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
A government report on Monday showed hospitals across the U.S. are facing “severe shortages” in everything from personal protective equipment to medical supplies like ventilators that help patients breathe to a rapidly decreasing amount of room within hospitals to house patients.
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“Hospitals reported that changing and sometimes inconsistent guidance from federal, state and local authorities posed challenges and confused hospitals and the public,” the report read, adding, “Hospitals also reported concerns that public misinformation has increased hospital workloads at a critical time.”
Trump questioned the validity of the federal government report when asked about it Monday.
Trump says he and Biden “agreed we weren’t going to talk about what we said” on the phone, but maintained he and his political rival had a “very, very good talk.”
“It was a warm talk,” Trump said. “I enjoyed it. I hope he did too.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.