Joe Biden Says ‘200 Million People Have Died’ of Coronavirus in United States

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Joe Biden apparently confused “million” for “thousand” during a speech Sunday, thereby overestimating the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States by a factor of 1,000.

“It’s estimated that 200 million people have died – probably by the time I finish this talk,” Biden said, his voice rising, during a speech in Philadelphia on Sunday, September 20. (It’s at 9:18 of the video.)

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 198,754 people in the United States had died of coronavirus as of 2:40 p.m. Sunday, September 20 – which is approaching 200,000.

The gaffe feeds into the Republican narrative that Biden is suffering from cognitive weakness.

Biden sought to correct his statement 3 minutes 25 seconds later.

“Like I said, as I speak we’re probably passing 200,000 deaths lost to this virus,” Biden said (at 12:43 of the video).

Biden appeared out of breath at the beginning of his speech after the short walk to the podium at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Biden praised Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late U.S. Supreme Court justice who died Friday, September 18. He called her “a righteous soul,” and said he prayed for Ginsburg and her family during Sunday Mass earlier in the day.

He chided prominent Republicans senators for saying they would support voting for a nominee by President Donald Trump to replace Ginsburg before the November 3 presidential election. He appealed to fence-sitting Republican senators who have the ability to stop a confirmation vote.

At stake, Biden said, is “the right to choose,” “the right to vote,” Obamacare, the status of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as minors, and collective bargaining by unions, among other things.

He said it’s wrong to put through a nominee to the court this close to the election.

“To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power. And I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it,” Biden said (at 11:16 of the video).

Earlier in the speech, Biden said the Republican U.S. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, was wrong in 2016 when he linked Biden to his decision not to take up then-President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court to fill a vacancy several months before the presidential election of that year.

“The only rule I’ve ever followed relating to the Supreme Court nomination was the constitution’s obligation for senators to provide their advice and their consent to a president’s judicial nominee,” Biden said (at 5:15 of the video).

Biden said that Trump’s nominee should not be voted on unless he wins the November election, and then only after a new Congress is seated in January.

Democrats are hoping to take over the White House and the U.S. Senate in 2021. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.

Biden said he doesn’t plan to release a list of possible Supreme Court nominees before the election, as Trump has. He argued that such a list might improperly influence sitting lower-court judges, would subject people on the list to undue pressure, and would prevent senators from advising him on potential nominees after he has assumed office.

He reiterated his commitment to name a black woman as his first nominee to the Supreme Court if he is elected president.

“But I’ll consult with senators from both parties about that pick,” Biden said.

The Biden campaign in recent weeks has sought to distance itself from left-wing violence in cities across America. He used the speech to sound centrist themes.

Toward the end of his speech, Biden portrayed Ginsburg, one of the most left wing justices in American history, as a unifying force. He praised Ginsburg for “her willingness to listen to those with whom she disagreed” and for her ability “to respect other points of view.”

He noted that Ginsburg socialized with the late Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative justices in modern times, even though they disagreed sharply on legal philosophy.

Biden didn’t mention Scalia’s name, but alluded to him.

“Famously, Justice Ginsburg got along well with some of the most conservative justices on the court. And she did it without compromising her principles, clouding her moral clarity, or losing her core principles,” Biden said. “If she can do this, so could we. How we talk to one another matters. How we treat one another matters. Respecting others matters. Justice Ginsburg proved it’s important to have a spine of steel, but also to have an open hand, not a closed fist, to those with whom we disagree.”