During a video interview prepared for the nation’s largest annual gathering of Black and Latino journalists, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden hinted he will announce his vice presidential pick just days before the Democratic National Convention.
The pre-recorded conversation, made public Thursday morning, was part of this year’s joint conference of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Biden had sat for an interview Tuesday with Dallas Morning News reporter Alfredo Corchado, NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Tia Mitchell and CBS correspondent Errol Barnett. The group took turns questioning the former vice president on his legislative record, policy platform and statements President Trump has made about immigrants, journalists and Biden’s own cognitive abilities.
NABJ and NAHJ officials also invited President Donald Trump to speak to members of both organizations, but he did not respond.
Biden addressed issues around the impact of COVID-19 in Black and Latino communities and also spoke about subsidized health care among undocumented immigrants, among other topics during the hour-long talk.
The VP question
While Biden did not reveal who his running mate will be, he did say he plans to identify her several days before the Democratic National Convention. He has previously said he won’t travel to Milwaukee to accept the party’s nomination and will do so instead in his home state of Delaware.
When asked whether he was considering Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for a position Biden has vowed to choose a woman to fill, Biden said that she is “very much a contingent.”
On creating a path to citizenship
Biden served two terms with President Obama — who, the journalist panel noted, has since earned the nickname “deporter in chief” for his record on deporting an unprecedented number of undocumented immigrants. But Biden sought to distance himself from that legacy this week.
He said the first thing he would do if he were elected president would be to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. to flee life-threatening situations or those who were brought to the U.S. as children. An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants have been the recipients of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program better known as DACA.
Biden also said he plans to extend the Temporary Protection Status program, or TPS, which temporarily protects undocumented immigrants from deportation if they’re fleeing life-threatening crises in their countries of origin.
“Anybody [who] can prove that they are in jeopardy to go back to their country and the reason they came in the first place—they should be able to stay in the United States of America until the circumstance changes their country,” he said.
The pandemic rages on
When asked if undocumented immigrants should get access to subsidized health care, Biden said that if a person works in the United States and pays taxes, they should have access to health care.
Navarro pressed the former vice president, asking if he meant every undocumented worker.
“No, it depends,” Biden said. “Not all undocumented workers are working.”
But when it comes to the still-raging coronavirus, which had killed nearly 160,000 people in the U.S. as of the airing of the interview, Biden said every person — citizen, immigrant, with papers or undocumented — should have access to testing, treatment, hospitalization and, eventually, a vaccine.
Everyone, Biden added, should have access to a vaccine for free.
When asked if children should go back to schools when people in the United States are still waiting on a COVID-19 vaccine, Biden responded with “it depends.”
He said cities must demonstrate that coronavirus cases are decreasing and provide school districts with the resources needed to implement COVID-19 safety protocols before sending students back to school for in-person instruction.
Lions and rhinos and clocks
Biden dismissed calls from Trump to take a cognitive test to prove his fitness for office.
As Errol Barnnett, a reporter with CBS News, asked the former vice president if he would submit to the kind of cognitive test Trump has boasted about passing, Biden scoffed.
“Come on, man!” he said.
Eduardo Garcia is a junior at California State University, Northridge, where he specializes in broadcast and Spanish-language journalism. He is a video editor for CSUN’s El Nuevo Sol, a bilingual multimedia publication. Reach him at eduardogarciamedia [at] gmail [dot] com and on Twitter @eduardogarciatv.