Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the second night of 2020 Democratic National Convention.
As Joe Biden formally becomes the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, convention speakers are making a clear and repeated effort to draw a contrast between Biden and President Trump not just on policy, but on empathy.
Starting with former first lady Michelle Obama on opening night and continuing with former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday, speaker after speaker hammered Trump for remarking that “It is what it is” in regards to the number of people in the United States who have died from the novel coronavirus.
“He has had more than enough time…He is clearly in over his head,” Obama said. “He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”
She added: “It is what it is.”
Obama’s comment hit at the often-used phrase by Trump when asked about the skyrocketing infection and deaths rates from the pathogen by reporters and television show moderators.
Trump first made the “It is what it is” comment during an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” when moderator Chris Wallace pressed him on his response to the pandemic. The president followed that comment up by reusing the line in a testy interview with Axios in early August.
“They’re dying it’s true,” Trump said during the interview, which aired on HBO. “It is what it is, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”
As of Tuesday evening, there had been more than 5,481,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States with 171,799 deaths related to the disease.
“How did Donald Trump respond? At first he said the virus was under control and would soon disappear,” Clinton said on Tuesday. “When it didn’t, he was on TV every day bragging on what a great job he was doing, while scientists waited to give us vital information. When he didn’t like the expert advice he was given, he ignored it.”
Clinton continued: “Only when COVID exploded in even more states did he encourage people to wear masks. By then many more were dying. When asked about the surge in deaths, he shrugged and said, ‘It is what it is.’ But did it have to be this way? No. COVID hit us much harder than it had to.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.– a frequent target of Trump’s ire – also hit the president on his infamous phrase.
“Millions are jobless, 170,000 Americans have died from COVID,” Schumer said during his convention address. “And Donald Trump says, ‘It is what it is.’ America, Donald Trump has quit on you.”
While Wednesday night’s big attraction will be the speech by Biden’s newly declared running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, if the first two nights of the convention are any measure, there looks to be plenty of fodder left for Democrats to lob at Trump as they seek to paint two very different portraits of the current president and Biden.