President Joe Biden tried to avoid lingering on his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, when he aired a publicly available sales pitch to Congress to quickly pass his massive coronavirus alleviation law.
“I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump. I don’t want to talk about him anymore,” Biden said Tuesday night at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“For four years everything that’s on the news has been Trump,” Biden said elsewhere. “For the next four years, I want to make sure the news is the American people.”
Biden’s visit to Badger State, his first official trip as president, came as House Democrats prepared to pass the $ 1.9 trillion Covid bailout package before the end of February.
The president, riddled with questions from the small, socially distant crowd of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, offered a cautiously optimistic timetable for when he believes the US can return to normal.
“In a year I think that there will be significantly fewer people who have to be socially distant and have to wear a mask, but we don’t know,” said Biden, making sure that “nothing too promising here.”
He also stressed the importance of reopening schools, a major political sticking point amid the pandemic.
Biden stepped down last week on a comment from press secretary Jen Psaki who said the goal for the president’s first 100 days in office is to open most of the kindergarten through eighth grade schools at least one day a week.
“No, that’s not true. That was reported. That is not true,” said Biden in the town hall. “The goal will be five days a week.”
Biden, who urged Americans to vaccinate, also said he believed teachers should be brought up “in the hierarchy” for the priority of vaccination.
When Biden felt compelled to speak out about the previous administration’s handling of the pandemic, he seemed reluctant to mention Trump by name.
“We inherited a circumstance,” said Biden, “where there weren’t many vaccines …” [and] There were very few federal guidelines to help Americans figure out how to get vaccinated.
“Think about what we didn’t do,” Biden said as Covid hit the US coast. “We wasted so much time.”
At one point, Biden referred to Trump as “the former man”.
“The former man said, ‘Well, you know, we’re just going to open things and that’s all we have to do.’ We said no, you have to deal with the disease before you can get the economy going, “Biden said.
“The fact is that the economy has to be dealt with now,” he stressed the need for increased unemployment insurance during the pandemic.
From his unity-focused inaugural address to his string of executive actions in the first week aimed at reversing previous administrative policies, Biden has made it clear his desire to push the nation out of the Trump era.
But City Hall came just three days after the completion of Trump’s unprecedented second impeachment trial. Trump was acquitted for an article in which he started the deadly riot at the Capitol on January 6.
Biden, eager to correct Republican support for Covid’s relief efforts, hesitated when asked if he would agree with House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., That Republicans, the Trump had acquitted of being “cowards”.
“I won’t give any names,” said Biden. “Look, I – all on the news for four years has been Trump. For the next four years, I want to make sure that the news is the American people.”
“I’m tired of talking about Trump,” he added to applause from the socially distant audience.