And the all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee insisted in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show that he also wants primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders “to be part of the journey” going forward — just not as his running mate.
With the coronavirus outbreak forcing social distancing and keeping most Americans in their homes in hopes of preventing a spread of the virus, the Democratic presidential nomination calendar has been upended, with many states delaying their remaining contests or transforming them entirely to voting by mail and absentee balloting.
“I’d much prefer to have on — you know, in-person voting, but it depends. It depends on the state of play,” Biden stressed. “But we cannot, we cannot delay or postpone a constitutionally required November election.”
Biden said that now’s the time to start looking into what it “would it would take to have voting by mail.”
Last week, the former vice president, in an interview with MSNBC, predicted “there’s going to be a great deal more absentee balloting” or voting by mail.
The $2 trillion economic stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by Trump – which aims to help workers, small businesses, and large companies devastated by the shut-down of much of the nation’s economy due to the pandemic, as well as provide aid to hospitals on the front lines in the crisis – also included $400 million to help states move toward mail-in voting.
Senate Democrats had pushed for $2 billion in election funding, with House Democrats angling for double that amount. Congressional Democrats say they’ll work to increase funding in the next stimulus package.
But the push for increased voting by mail and absentee balloting faces fierce opposition by President Trump and Republicans.
While the president has said the general election will go forward, he stressed recently that he opposes voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic because “I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting.”
The charge by Trump was his latest disputed claim regarding voter fraud, which he argues kept him from winning the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election.
“It shouldn’t be mail-in voting,” Trump added. “It should be: you go to a booth and you proudly display yourself. You don’t send it in the mail where people can pick up — all sorts of bad things can happen … by the time it gets in and is tabulated.”
And Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel – in an opinion piece Monday on FoxNews.com – claimed that “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and former Vice President Joe Biden say we must throw election integrity to the wayside in favor of an all-mail election, fundamentally changing how Americans vote in eight months. The overhaul would vastly expand opportunities for fraud and weaken confidence in our elections, but all Washington Democrats see is a potential benefit for their party.”
The broader partisan fight over voting by mail comes as Wisconsin’s conservative-dominated Supreme Court squashed a primary eve move by the state’s Democratic governor to delay in-person voting in Tuesday’s primary amid health concerns due to the pandemic. And the Republican-nominated justices on U.S. Supreme Court won out over the Democratic-nominated justices in a 5-4 ruling, preventing a one-week extension of voting by mail in Wisconsin’s primary.
Among the races on the ballot in Wisconsin: the Democratic presidential primary between Biden and his last remaining rival, Sen. Sanders.
A pre-primary public opinion poll indicated the former vice president with a nearly two-to-one lead over the populist senator from Vermont. The chorus of calls for Sanders to end his White House bid and back Biden will only grow louder if Sanders suffers another defeat in Wisconsin – a state that the senator easily won over eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary.
In his quest to unite the Democratic Party as he prepares to challenge Trump in the general election, Biden’s looking to win the backing of Sanders and his legions of younger and progressive supporters.
“Bernie has an incredible following,” Biden said in the interview. “Bernie is one of probably a half a dozen people in American history who may not be the nominee, but has had an impact on American politics in a significant way, in a positive way.”
And Biden pledged that “if I’m the nominee, I can tell you one thing. I would very much want Bernie to be part of the journey, not as a vice presidential nominee, but just engaging in all the things that he’s worked so hard to do, many of which I agree.”
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