Biden says ‘no need’ to postpone November election

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Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Senator Bernie Sanders greet one another with an elbow bump before their debate on March 15 in the CNN studio in Washington, D.C.
MANDEL NGAN/GETTY IMAGES/TNS

BY JENNIFER EPSTEIN
BLOOMBERG NEWS/TNS

Joe Biden pushed back on suggestions that the November election could be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying Sunday it’s important that voting continues as it has during other crises in American history.

“We have to let the electoral process run. We ought to be able to preserve our health and our democracy at the same time,” the 2020 Democratic front-runner said.

“You know, we voted in the middle of a civil war, we voted in the middle of World War I and II,” the former vice president said on a conference call with Atlanta-area donors.

The donors on the call had planned to attend a fundraiser hosted by former Coca-Cola Co. chairman and chief executive officer Muhtar Kent — one of thousands of events around the U.S. cancelled as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.

“The idea of postponing the electoral process seems to me out of the question,” Biden said.

His comments came in response to a question from Kent about how Biden planned to campaign against President Donald Trump during the coronavirus pandemic, which has put the U.S. on something like a wartime footing.

COMMUNICATING FROM HOME

Biden raised the suggestion that Trump might try to cancel November’s elections, still more than seven months away.

“I know there’s a lot of rumors and speculation as to, is the other guy going to try to postpone the election in November and all that. There’s no need to do that,” Biden said.

Later, in response to another question about whether voting in the delayed Georgia primary would still count, Biden pointed to some states’ moves to mail-in ballots as a possible way to handle primaries that had been scheduled for mid-March or later that have been postponed.

Georgia moved its primary from March 24 to May 19. Biden has a nearly insurmountable lead over Bernie Sanders in the number of delegates needed to be nominated at the Democratic National Convention.

Biden also said that he’ll be communicating more from his home, where a rec room has been converted into a TV studio with a high-speed internet line. He said he’ll make his first “presentation” to the country around 11:30 a.m. ET on Monday and will subsequently be doing more interviews and online discussions from the studio.

ON PICKING RUNNING MATE

Biden also told donors he’ll start the process of vetting possible running mates “relatively soon, meaning a matter of weeks.” After making a surprise commitment at the last Democratic debate to picking a woman as his vice-presidential nominee, he said Sunday at least six or seven women would be on his initial list.

He also said the vetting process will be extensive to ensure “once I pick someone, God willing, if I’m the nominee, that there’s not going to be any snafu.”

He suggested that he’s discussed the decision with former President Barack Obama, whom he served as vice president.

“The most important thing, and I’ve actually talked to Barack about this, the most important thing is that it has to be someone who the day after they’re picked is prepared to be president of the United States of America if something happened.”

Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general who Trump fired early in his term, participated in the conference-call fundraiser. Biden has floated her name in the past as a possible running mate.

“She’s really incredible. Sally’s an incredible person,” Biden said.

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