President Trump defended his coronavirus response Thursday amid an uproar over his admission he wanted to play down the threat early on, pointing to a decline in new cases and deaths and arguing he never lied to the public. "It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people", Biden added. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic". That was in a private conversation with journalist Bob Woodward last March that became public on Wednesday with the publication of excerpts from Woodward's upcoming book - Rage.
UPDATE (10:40 p.m. EDT): Gray told the Business Insider in an interview later on Thursday night that the Trump campaign objected to Gray posting pictures of the event from the general admission area without press credentials.
He told the excited crowd that his approach to Covid-19 matched that of the British government in World War II with its famous "Keep calm and carry on" morale-boosting posters. Woodward has apparently settled that question.
U.S. President Donald Trump predicted at a rally in MI on Thursday that he would win the election battleground state as thousands of cheering, largely maskless supporters defied state guidelines aimed at containing the novel coronavirus.
While Mr Biden said he does not want to get baited by Mr Trump, he did express confidence that "I know how to handle bullies".
Trump went on to explain that he wanted to avoid causing panic, but his acknowledgement that he was deliberately failing to tell the country the unvarnished truth has started a firestorm. "And we'll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner". He resigned as party chair a year ago because he says President Trump has hurt farmers considerably with failed trade policies then made them wards of the government with federal aid packages. "I'll acknowledge my mistakes when I make them and I'll level with the American people". "Think that's tough? You know, they think politics in this country's tough", Trump said to Woodward.
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Why Trump agreed to conduct more than a dozen on-the-record interviews with Woodward is something of a mystery, particularly after his previous book portrayed Trump in a much less than flattering light.
"Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months", Trump tweeted.
On February 25, just weeks before much of the country was forced to shut down because of the pandemic, Trump declared the virus "very well under control in our country".
"No", Trump replied. "I don't feel that at all".
Woodward's "Fear: Trump in the White House" published in 2018 painted a portrait of an angry, paranoid leader and a White House which Trump's own chief of staff described as "Crazytown".
In the final run before November 3 election day, aides and allies are again gritting their teeth. In a series of interviews with Woodward, the president spoke frankly about the dangers posed by the virus - even as he downplayed them publicly - and admitted he had tried to mislead the public.
Karl Rove, the Republican campaign mastermind in the George W. Bush era, had this warning for the incumbent: "If the president isn't focused. the occupant of the Oval Office is set to change".