Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has now gone well over two months without holding a press conference, fueling accusations from the Trump campaign that the former VP is spending the campaign “hiding in his basement.”
“It has been 76 days since Joe Biden has held a press conference. Americans are starting to question if Joe Biden is up to the challenge,” deputy press secretary Ken Farnaso told Fox News. “Team Trump stands with Team Biden in calling for equal coverage of his events, gaffes and all.”
Biden last held a virtual news briefing on April 2, fielding questions from a variety of reporters while hunkered down in his Delaware home as the coronavirus pandemic essentially put the presidential campaign on ice and the country on lockdown. Before that, the former vice president had held an in-person press conference the day after Super Tuesday on March 4, and then a virtual press conference on March 25.
Taking time off from press conferences is not unheard of. Back in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump went 168 days without a formal press conference, and took heat for it, although he was taking questions from smaller gatherings. This year, the coronavirus pandemic put press events clearly on the backburner.
Yet Biden still has given individual interviews and managed to hold a variety of other virtual and real-world events including fundraisers, town halls and other appearances, especially in recent weeks, as states have started to emerge from lockdowns.
Other politicians and officials, including President Trump, have managed to hold press conferences, virtual or otherwise. At the start of the pandemic, Trump was holding briefings with his coronavirus task force members almost every day.
So far, however, the more low-key approach for Biden may be working to his advantage. Polls show Biden climbing steadily in the polls and opening up a significant lead over Trump.
Fox News reported last week on a video of Biden supporter and ex-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe suggesting the candidate should just stay put.
“People say all the time, ‘Oh, we got to get the vice president out of the basement,'” McAuliffe told the “monthly breakfast” of the Norfolk City Democratic Committee. “He’s fine in the basement. Two people see him a day: his two body people. That’s it. Let Trump keep doing what Trump’s doing.”
However, the pressure is likely to increase on Biden to hold a press conference as in-person campaigning resumes and states roll back restrictions related to the virus amid hopes that the peak is over.
The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this report.
Biden himself is back on the campaign trail, and was in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. But the Trump campaign, noting his lack of press conferences, made fun of what they saw as an appropriately named restaurant he was visiting — the “HideAway.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Brian Flood contributed to this report.