Trump says Biden is 'hiding in basement' to avoid debate with him hours after Democrat issues challenge
The current year is a crucial one for American politics since the presidential election is due in November. However, politics has been pushed back by the COVID-19 pandemic which has hit over 869,000 people in the country and left nearly 50,000 dead — the most in any country in the world.
President Donald Trump is, in fact, battling the biggest challenge of his tenure, however, he has not lost sight of political developments. On April 23, Trump indirectly hit out at presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden saying the latter was hiding in a basement and showing little interest in a debate with him.
He made the comment hours after the former vice president said he would be happy to meet the president in a head-to-head debate "anytime, anywhere".
At his press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the White House, Trump took a dig at Biden saying the Democrat was getting a free pass from the media while he was being slammed.
Referring to the 77-year-old as a "sleepy guy" (Trump often mocks Biden as "Sleepy Joe"), the president said: "We have a sleepy guy in the basement of the house that the press is giving the free pass to who doesn't want to do debates because of COVID."
However, earlier in the day, Biden said he would lock horns with the president either in person or on any platform like Zoom, Skype or Slack.
"I can hardly wait to debate Donald Trump," Biden replied when questioned by donors in an online fundraiser. "Look, I'm ready to debate him. Zoom or Skype or Slack or hangouts or in person, anytime anywhere he wants," the former Delaware senator said.
"This president can't stop talking about himself, asking governors to thank him for what he's doing for them," Biden added.
Biden's phone call with Trump
Biden, who has remained within the confines of his home in Delaware in recent times and making public appearances virtually, had a phone call with Trump on April 6 over the pandemic. He reportedly told Trump in the call that the federal response to the pandemic is "about taking responsibility".
It was a rare moment when the two rivals had a direct talk. Otherwise, both Trump and Biden have been critical of each other with the Democrat accusing the former of coming up with a slow response to the outbreak.
The Trump campaign, on the other hand, accused Biden of being soft towards China, the country which most Americans loathe at the moment over the origin of the virus.
With Biden nearing an official confirmation of his nomination, his presidential debates with Trump preceding the election are a matter of time. The debates, generally three in number, are organized by the bipartisan commission that decides on the date, time, venue and topics.
Trump's allegations that Biden doesn't want to debate because of the pandemic, however, are not true. On March 15, Biden had a closed-door primary debate with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, his last remaining Democratic rival who dropped out earlier this month and endorsed him.
The debate was shifted from Arizona to Washington DC and the two participants greeted each other with elbow bumps and maintained a good distance while debating. Only the anchors and a TV crew were present in the room.
Biden, who has remained inside his house in Delaware's Wilmington to observe social-distancing measures, is leading in the RealClearPolitics polling average on the November election by six points.
A series of state polls on Thursday found Biden leading Trump in Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the states that the president won in 2016.