Biden campaign testing those who traveled to debate

The Biden campaign is testing those who attended the first presidential debate with the former vice president for Covid-19.

A source familiar with the situation told POLITICO that, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s confirmation that he has tested positive himself, the Biden campaign has “rapid testing capability and is testing everyone who attended the debate.”

It’s unclear how many people that involves.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) were among those who traveled with Biden to Tuesday’s debate and both say they have tested negative. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were also among those who attended the debate.

Biden has been tested, but the campaign has not said whether he has received results back yet.

Ryan expressed anger at the Trump family for its approach to the virus at the debate, saying the family and campaign should be held accountable for potentially exposing Biden and other attendees to the virus.

Ryan, who sat in the Cleveland debate hall where the Trump family refused to wear masks, said he woke up Friday morning to see the news that the president had tested positive and promptly was tested in Washington D.C. because he would have to fly home soon to be with his wife, a school teacher, and children.

“Not a one of ‘em wore masks. It was obnoxious when I saw it that night, but after having a Q-Tip jammed down my nose again, I’m angry at them,” Ryan told POLITICO, referring to the Trumps. “It’s the height of arrogance. It’s dangerous. They endangered other people. They were up on the stage where Joe Biden was.”

The Trump campaign did not contact the Biden campaign to alert them that the president and first lady had tested positive, according to a source familiar with the sequence of events. The campaign found out from the news media.

The Biden campaign has been fastidious about taking precautions regarding coronavirus — to the point that Trump mocked Biden about it during the debate.

Biden on Friday offered his condolences to Trump and first lady Melania Trump after they tested positive.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” Biden wrote in a tweet Friday. “We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”

The president and first lady announced late Thursday night that they had tested positive for the virus following the news that one of Trump’s closest aides had contracted the virus a day earlier.

It’s not clear when or how Trump or Hope Hicks, a senior counselor to the president, contracted the virus, or whether Biden, who faced off with Trump in person in Tuesday night’s debate was exposed to it.

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace, who moderated the debate, has also said he will get tested.

Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, was tested on Thursday as part of the campaign’s routine testing protocol, and tested negative.

Ryan said the Biden campaign hadn’t contacted him before he got his test.

“The fact is that Biden was responsible and Trump made fun of him for it,” Ryan said. “Biden should keep doing what he’s doing, especially if your opponent can’t go out and you can, because you did it right.”

A Biden adviser said the campaign was debating the question of travel internally as they examined the former vice president’s upcoming schedule, which includes a proposed stop Monday in Miami where he’s scheduled to do a live town hall interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.

“Trump kept being unsafe and mocking Biden for being ‘in the bunker.’ But guess who’s in the bunker now?” the adviser, who did not want to be identified, said.

Prior to receiving his positive test results on Thursday, Trump tweeted that he and the first lady had planned to quarantine, potentially upending his presidential campaign just over a month before voters head to the polls to decide on his reelection.

It is unclear how Biden’s campaign schedule might change. Since his return to in-person campaigning late this summer, the former vice president has made a conscious effort to keep events smaller and to follow stringent safety precautions in order to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.

Chris Cadelago contributed to this report.


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