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Joe Biden and Mike Pence meet and elbow bump at 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City, reflecting coronavirus concern

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) greet each other during a 9/11 memorial service at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2020 in New York City.

Amr Alfiky | Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence and former Vice President Joe Biden greeted each other with an elbow bump Friday at the 9/11 memorial service in New York City, a moment reflecting the risks of a coronavirus pandemic whose death toll every month dwarfs the fatalities from the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The friendly physical exchange between Pence and Biden at Ground Zero was also a solemn, brief pause of what has been a bitter campaign between President Donald Trump and Biden, the Democratic nominee looking to win the White House this fall. Trump did not attend the event.

Biden also elbow bumped Pence’s wife, Karen Pence. Biden’s wife Jill likewise exchanged similar bumps with the Pences at the event, held at the lower Manhattan site of what had been the World Trade Center’s iconic Twin Towers before they were toppled by two hijacked planes 19 year ago.

The Bidens, Pences, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other attendees at the memorial event for the 19th anniversary all were wearing masks as a precaution against transmitting Covid-19.

Bloomberg, who had sought the Democratic presidential nomination this year, became mayor four months after the terror attacks, succeeding Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who now serves as Trump’s personal lawyer.

As of Friday, there have been nearly 6.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. And more than 191,800 Americans have died from the virus.

On Sept. 11, 2001, a total of at least 2,977 people were killed in the terror attacks in New York, at the Pentagon in northern Virginia and at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93, one of four planes hijacked that day by Islamic extremists, crashed to the ground. Most of the deaths occurred in New York.

Biden was due to visit Shanksville for memorial events later Friday, after Trump traveled there Friday morning to mark the anniversary. The visits of the two campaign adversaries were not scheduled to overlap.

Biden told reporters in New York that he would neither be discussing the campaign or politics, nor would his campaign be advertising on television Friday, because of the nature of the day.

“Guys, I’m not gonna be making any news today. I’m not gonna talk about anything other than 9/11,” Biden said.

“We took all our advertising down. It’s a solemn day and that’s how we’re gonna keep it. Okay? We’ll get back to the campaign tomorrow.”

The Trump campaign apparently had no such moratorium on television advertisements.

At least one ad for Trump ran Friday morning on Fox News, a favorite media outlet of the president.

A Trump campaign official defended the decision to CNBC, saying, “people are voting today and our ads are patriotic.”

In late August, the non-profit group 9/11 Day had written to both Trump’s and to Biden’s campaigns, asking them to honor a moratorium of campaign ads on the day, which the group has said 

“This traditional 9/11 Campaign Moratorium, originally established in 2004, has been supported by all major party U.S. presidential candidates since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as well as by many other candidates for public office at the federal, state and local levels,” the group said in its letter.

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