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Biden: Coronavirus may force Democrats to hold 'virtual convention'

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic front-runner,

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic front-runner, in a virtual briefing on March 25. Credit: Biden for President via AP

Joe Biden, the Democratic front-runner for president, said Sunday the Democratic National Committee may have to hold a "virtual convention" in August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week," the former vice president told host George Stephanopoulos that the party may have to dispense with nominating a presidential candidate in the presence of tens of thousands of delegates and party leaders.

"I think we should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding a convention is going to be necessary, but we may not be able to put 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 people in one place and that's very possible," he said.

The DNC last week postponed the start of its convention in Milwaukee's Fiserv Forum to Aug. 17, from July 13.

He also said people should begin considering the logistics of the November elections. "It's time we start thinking about how we're going to hold elections" and "how are we going to make it available to everybody."

Biden, who has an overwhelming lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said he also had apologized to Sanders recently because he did not want to appear "presumptuous" for establishing a committee to vet potential vice presidential candidates.

"I was apologizing because it was a bit presumptuous for me to be setting up a committee. ... I was apologizing to him by saying, 'Bernie, I don't want to in any way and not in any way to demean your effort, but if we don't start now, we’re not going to be able to get there.' And he was very gracious; he said he understood."

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Biden added the selection process takes "a lot of time, and if we don't start now or shortly in the month of April, it's going to be hard to get it done."

He said he made it clear to Sanders that he "wasn't trying to be presumptuous, [or] in any way push him. And he said he appreciated that."

Biden, asked what he would say to Trump if they were to speak about the pandemic, said he would tell Trump to "implement the Defense Production Act, empower a supply commander, create a Defense Production Act for banks that get out small-business loans, ramp up testing, a whole range of things."

He added, "You got to go faster than slower. And we started off awfully slow. ... And I don't think there's been enough of it, urgency."

Biden said it was not "the president's fault at all" and said it was key to produce a vaccine, adding, "But in the meantime, we have to take all the efforts we can to make sure we prevent the spread, lower that curve as they talk about, and move from there."

Trump on Friday highlighted new federal guidelines recommending that Americans wear face coverings in public to help fight the spread of the new coronavirus. Trump said he had no plan on following that recommendation himself.

But Biden said he would wear a mask when appearing in public. He said, "Listen to the experts, do what they tell you ... he may not like how he looks in a mask, but the truth of the matter is that — follow the science — that's what they're telling us."

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