President Biden will deliver his first prime-time address from the White House tonight to commemorate the anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown.
Biden says he plans to talk about the next steps to address the pandemic.
“Tomorrow night, I’m going to (deliver a) prime-time address to the American people and talk about what we’ve been through as a nation this past year, but more importantly, I’m going to talk about what comes next,” Biden said on Wednesday.
“I’m going to launch the next phase of the Covid response and explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people.”
Additionally, in his speech tonight, Biden is expected to direct all states and tribal governments to designate all adult Americans eligible for a vaccine no later than May 1.
The president is also expected to announce a website and call center that will launch by May 1 and make it easier for people to find vaccine locations and schedule an appointment.
He will increase the number of places people can get vaccinated and expand the type of people who can administer vaccines or support vaccinations.
Biden is expected to announce the deployment of more than 4,000 active duty troops to support vaccination efforts, which will bring the total number of soldiers assisting vaccinations to over 6,000.
Watch the teleprompter-reader-in-chief live here :
However, as Philip Wegmann write at RealClearPolitics.com, America would like to hear from its president.
More than six weeks since his inauguration, and unlike his predecessors, Joe Biden still has not held a solo press conference. When the new president does speak, he usually reads from a teleprompter or waits for his staff to call on reporters. According to new polling from Rasmussen, Americans are starting to notice.
Fifty-two percent of likely voters say they are “very concerned” that Biden has not held a press conference while 24% say they are “not very concerned” and another 22% say they are “not at all concerned.” But Biden will, someday soon, meet the press all on his own.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has promised reporters as much, though she hasn’t said exactly when. However, the country will see the president tonight when he delivers his first prime-time address, marking one year since the coronavirus pandemic came to the United States.
He teased those remarks at the White House after an event Wednesday heralding the successful cooperation between pharmaceutical giants Johnson & Johnson and Merck to develop more vaccines.
The theme of his big speech? The struggles of the last year, “but more importantly, I’m going to talk about what comes next,” Biden said, adding,
“There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of this past year.” At the same time, he warned, abandoning caution would be foolhardy: “We cannot let our guard down or assume that victory is inevitable.”
More sacrifices are necessary, the president said, promising to outline the next steps in his Thursday night address and “explain what we will do as a government and what we’ll ask of the American people.”
As Biden started walking away from the podium, reporters shouted questions. He paused to answer just one: What will the U.S. do with surplus vaccine supply?
“If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world,” the president replied. “This not something that can be stopped by a fence no matter how high you build a fence or a wall. So we’re not going to be ultimately safe until the world is safe. So, we’re going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of first, but we’re then going to try to help the rest of the world.”
He then walked away as the press shouted other questions. This has become the norm, a sharp change from his free-wheeling predecessor. For better or worse, Donald Trump loved to engage with the media members he told his supporters he hated. The former president did not just hold press conferences. He invited reporters into the Oval Office regularly and he stopped to take their questions on his way to Marine One, and also offered up a stream of consciousness on the news of the day via his Twitter feed.
Biden? No way.
“There’s going to be a weaning process,” laughs Moe Vela, a former Biden aide who remains close to the president. Don’t expect the new president to weigh in on every news cycle, he told RealClearPolitics. But Biden World insists he is still accessible, taking the occasional question during photo ops or after prepared remarks. The press should just get used to a leaner news diet.
“He is not,” explained Psaki when the White House declined to weigh in on Trump’s second impeachment, “a pundit.”
While the difference between Biden and Trump is stark, the difference between Biden and every other president in the last century is also remarkable. Analysis by CNN found that “he is behind his 15 most recent predecessors, who all held a solo press conference within 33 days of taking office.”
Why the wait? “Presidents most often answer questions in a press conference setting when they have something they want to say,” explains Martha Joynt Kumar, the director of the White House Transition Project. “That is when you call a press conference. That was true for both George W. Bush and for Obama.
“With an important victory, Biden is likely to soon have a press conference,” she told RCP. Passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package could provide such an opportunity, and none too soon. While Psaki briefs the press daily, the White House Correspondents’ Association wants more. “Press conferences are critical to informing the American people and holding an administration accountable to the public,” said association President Zeke Miller.
“As it has with prior presidents, the WHCA continues to call on President Biden to hold formal press conferences with regularity.”
Frustration is building. The Washington Post editorial board, which hasn’t been unfriendly to Biden, warned that “avoiding news conferences must not become a regular habit.” Presidential spokespersons like to spin this kind of silence as “message discipline,” but as the Post reminded the White House, “he is the president, and Americans have every right to expect that he will regularly submit himself to substantial questioning.”
Republican critics are even more pointed. “President Trump barely went 48 hours without holding a press conference and giving access to the American people,” tweeted former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. “President Biden has gone 48 days.” This silence was enough for the National Republican Senatorial Committee to dust off old talking points from the campaign when they once again dubbed the new commander-in-chief “basement Biden.”
The president hasn’t exactly helped the situation. While he spoke about the importance of transparency on the campaign trail, he now tends to ignore questions.
Biden on Tuesday visited a Washington, D.C., hardware store kept afloat by federal stimulus funds. He chatted with employees, and for the better part of the photo op, the traveling press corps stayed quiet. Eventually, they started shouting questions. “Come on, press, you gotta go,” the president’s handlers said as Biden milled about silently and reporters were herded outside. “You gotta go.”
Via Zero Hedge