Updated Dec 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Highlights from Biden and Harris' first joint interview since the election

President-elect Joe Biden

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

What he's saying: For Biden, the four crises his administration will tackle are COVID-19, a waning economy, racial inequity and climate change.

On COVID-19:

  • Biden said he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency: "Just 100 days to mask, not forever. 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction."
  • He also said he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when Biden takes office early next year.
  • The president-elect will be "happy to" publicly get a coronavirus vaccine once Fauci says it's safe.
  • Biden and Harris' COVID relief proposal will depend on Congress, and Biden called Democrats' $900 billion bill a start, but "not enough."
  • He has appointed a person in the White House to oversee inequities in the health care system and emphasized the need to make vaccines accessible to communities of color.

On diversity:

  • Biden stood by his assertion that his Cabinet will the most diverse in history, "representative of Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ."
  • But Black, Latino, Asian American and Native American groups have said his Cabinet picks so far are not enough.
  • The first eight Cabinet members Biden's team has announced are three men and five women; five people of color and three white people.

On climate:

  • Biden emphasized his climate plan will create 18.6 million jobs and $1 trillion growth in GDP.
  • "The clock is ticking rapidly on this issue, and the president-elect has made it very clear that we are going to approach this in a way that we know the vast majority have so much more in common than what separates us," Harris said.

On international affairs:

  • The Biden administration plans to re-establish relationships with U.S. allies that have distanced themselves from the U.S. under President Trump.
  • Iran negotiations will be hard, he acknowledged, but that’s why “we cannot do this alone..."
  • On China: It’s not about punishing the rival nation for the coronavirus, but insisting they play by international norms, Biden said.

On the transition of power:

  • Biden indicated that "more than several" sitting Republican senators have privately called to congratulate him on his presidential victory. Biden said he wanted to be tactful and not name names.
  • CNN's Jake Tapper noted that Trump has not yet said he would attend Biden's inauguration. The rest of the world “followed us not just because of the example of our power — the power of our example," Biden responded. "And look where we are now in the world. Look how we’re viewed … In that sense the protocol of the transfer of power I think is important but it is totally his decision and it’s of no personal consequence to me but I do think it is for the country.”
  • Asked about reports that Trump is considering pre-emptive pardons for his children and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Harris said the DOJ will operate independently on those issues. "We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job," she responded.
  • Biden himself made a new ethics agreement: “My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict with ... the presidency and government."
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