- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden has scheduled a $2,800 per person “virtual fireside chat” for April 16, according to his campaign’s website.

The former vice president is the presumptive favorite to win the Democratic nomination at the party’s convention, which has been postponed one month because of the coronavirus pandemic. The chat will be held online.

The fundraising event comes as campaigning is at a standstill and while 10 million people have filed for unemployment. At least 40 percent of Americans have lost their jobs or some income because of widespread stay-at-home rules that have frozen much of the U.S. economy.

Co-host positions for the event are being sold for $25,000, the website invitation says.

In normal times, the fundraising event would be unremarkable, but some commenters apparently backing rival Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders’ candidacy found it distasteful.

“Joe Biden is holding a fireside chat,” ran a post Friday at the subreddit WayOfTheBern. “To view the livestream will cost $2,800 per person. This will be done in the middle of a pandemic in which over 10 million Americans have lost their jobs. I am literally disgusted, even Trump wouldn’t go that low.”

The post has drawn considerably more attention than most posts at WayOfTheBern, racking up nearly 800 comments in a few hours.

Spokespeople for Mr. Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

President Trump’s campaign as well as groups working on behalf of Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden have continued to solicit contributions online during the coronavirus pandemic, which began in Wuhan, China, in December.

In the midst of it, Mr. Biden has struggled to maintain his profile, releasing several videos filmed at his home in Delaware and giving online interviews to sympathetic outlets and late-night comedy show hosts.

While many of those appearances have been marred by Mr. Biden fumbling over answers or prepared scripts, they have also included multiple criticisms of the way the Trump administration has handled the virus, which as of Friday had infected more than 270,000 and killed almost 7,000 Americans, according to the John Hopkins University tracker.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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