Joe Biden has used the word 'xenophobia' in the context of Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis and not for the China travel ban.
On the concluding night of the Republican National Convention, President Donald Trump claimed that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had called the China travel ban 'hysterical' and 'xenophobic.'
The first case of coronavirus was reported in the U.S. on January 21, 2020. A traveler who had visited China had tested positive on arriving in Washington state. A day later, Trump had claimed at a news conference that things were under control.
Over the next few days, as the number of cases in the U.S. increased, the White House started its coronavirus response task force, headed by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. On January 31, Trump issued an executive order blocking entry to the U.S. from anyone who has been in China in the last 14 days. The order came into effect on February 2. It did not include U.S. residents and family members or spouses of U.S. residents or citizens. Azar also declared the coronavirus crisis a public health emergency.
On February 2, 2020, Biden tweeted, 'We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump's record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.' Biden's tweet was a rehash of a similar comment he had made at a campaign in Iowa held on January 31.
Biden used the word 'xenophobia' again at a press conference held on March 12 while speaking about the virus's threat. He said, 'The world officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Being overly dismissive is only going to hurt us and further advance the spread of the disease. But neither should we panic or fall back on xenophobia by labeling COVID-19 a foreign virus. It does not displace accountability for the misjudgments that have been taken thus far by the Trump administration.' The word resurfaced again in Biden's election speech in May 2020 when he criticized Trump for his handling of the coronavirus.
He said, 'The pandemic has unleashed familiar forces of hate, fear, and xenophobia that he always flames that have always existed in this society. However, Trump has brought a new rash of racial messages, verbal and physical attacks, and other acts of hate, some subtle, some overt, against the Asian American and Pacific Islanders.'
Biden's scathing remarks were directed at Trump's usage of the term 'Chinese virus' and his claim about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi being responsible for many deaths because she allegedly attended a street fair in Chinatown, San Francisco.
In another instance, Biden tweeted 'Stop the xenophobic fearmongering' in response to Trump's tweet in which he used the term 'Chinese virus.'
Trump's remarks prompted a severe backlash on social media. His statements were called racist and were condemned for fostering discrimination towards the people of China or Asian origin. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had tweeted, Our Asian-American communities — people YOU serve — are already suffering. They don't need you fueling more bigotry.'
During a White House briefing on March 21, Trump remarked that Biden had called him a xenophobic for imposing travel restrictions on people coming from China. He made similar claims in a tweet posted on March 24, and during a Fox News, Town Hall held on March 26.
Biden has not directly said that the travel restriction on people coming from China was xenophobic. In all the instances, he has used the word 'xenophobic' in the context of Trump's handling of the pandemic, and his statements indicate he never opposed the China travel ban in particular. Biden's campaign issued a statement saying the former vice president supported Trump's decision to ban foreign nationals who had been in China for 14 days before entering the United States. Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager, told CNN on April 3 that Biden supports travel bans guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy. Biden's spokesperson Andrew Bates clarified to PolitiFact that Biden had decried Trump's xenophobia for years and said that it shouldn't influence the U.S. approach to this outbreak.
Based on this, we conclude that Biden's comment has been taken out of context and misattributed. His comment was not about coronavirus travel restrictions.