Biden wants to help Trump learn from past

Joe Biden says he'd like to talk to Donald Trump about previous experience with disease outbreaks.
Joe Biden says he'd like to talk to Donald Trump about previous experience with disease outbreaks.

Joe Biden says he wants to speak with President Donald Trump in the hope the president can "learn some lessons" from the Obama administration on how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

"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," the former vice president said during a virtual press briefing.

Biden's aides have said they're working to arrange a phone call with Trump to discuss his coronavirus response. The president said Wednesday he would "love" to speak with Biden.

The prospective Democratic presidential nominee has cited his work in addressing the 2014 Ebola crisis as a possible model for how the federal government should deal with the current pandemic. The current coronavirus outbreak has affected exponentially more individuals worldwide, with the infection rate topping 1 million on Thursday.

In recent weeks, Biden has offered his own proposals, which include expanding health care access, bolstering banks' lending ability and pushing out supplies to hospitals faster. Biden said on Thursday that he hoped Trump would expand use of the Defence Production Act, shifting US manufacturing capabilities toward urgently needed medical supplies.

But he said if he spoke with Trump, he wouldn't try to claim credit for the president's moves.

"I think there's things that the president can use early on from the experience we had before ... and if he did, I wasn't going to be out there saying he took my idea," Biden said. "It's a matter of the president doing what can most effectively get things done now."

Separately, Biden dismissed efforts from his last-remaining primary rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, to turn the pandemic into a new justification for his "Medicare for All" government insurance plan.

Biden praised Sanders as "passionate" but said Medicare for All wouldn't "make a difference" in the nation's ability to combat COVID-19.

Even as Biden insisted he wanted a good-faith call with Trump, he continued to criticise Trump's response to the crisis and suggested it was difficult for Americans to trust him.

Implementing the package Trump signed last week, Biden said, "takes more than tweets and press conferences."

Australian Associated Press