Washington, DC — As the threat of coronavirus becomes a reality that Americans cannot ignore, the president and vice president are doing exactly that. Tonight, President Trump will attend a campaign rally in South Carolina while the vice president, who just on Wednesday was tasked with leading the administration’s coronavirus response, is courting rich donors in Florida at a $25,000 a plate fundraiser. Despite dire warnings from health officials that coronavirus will “inevitably” become a global pandemic, the president and vice president continue to put their own political futures over the safety of the American public. In response, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach, who coordinated the Ebola response within HHS under President Obama, released the following statement: 

“President Trump and Vice President Pence’s continued focus on their personal politics instead of keeping America safe from coronavirus shows us how woefully unprepared they are to handle this crisis. On a day when the president should be laser focused on tackling coronavirus he has decided to hold a campaign rally while the vice president courts rich donors in Florida. From muzzling CDC and NIH officials to spreading misinformation, it’s clear that President Trump and Vice President Pence care more about their reelection than protecting Americans.” 

BACKGROUND

  • Tampa Bay Times: What’s on Mike Pence’s schedule as coronavirus point man? A fundraiser in Florida.
  • Washington Post: Pence Seizes Control Of Coronavirus Response Amid Criticism Of His Qualifications.
  • The Guardian: Mike Pence ‘not up to task’ of leading US coronavirus response, say experts
  • ABC News: As he leads coronavirus response, Pence criticized for handling of HIV outbreak while Indiana’s governor
  • Associated Press: Pence’s handling of 2015 HIV outbreak gets new scrutiny

Washington Post: Pence Plans To Continue His Heavy Campaign Schedule During Coronavirus Outbreak. “Pence plans to continue his heavy campaign schedule — which has often included trips to two battleground states each week, according to a senior administration official. There’s not much in Pence’s vice presidency that would indicate he will be able to command a whole-of-government response removed from political considerations, said Joel Goldstein, a professor at Saint Louis University School of Law and author of ‘The White House Vice Presidency.’” [Washington Post, 2/27/20

Associated Press: Trump Tried To Blame Democrats For Stock Market Drop In Coronavirus Press Conference. “Trump spent close to an hour discussing the virus threat, after a week of sharp stock market losses over the health crisis and concern within the administration that a growing outbreak could affect his reelection. He blamed the Democrats for the stock market slide, saying, ‘I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves.’ And he shifted to defend his overall record and predict a win in November.” [Associated Press, 2/27/20

Politico: President Trump And His Aides Have Been “Trying To Downplay The Situation In Hopes They Can Put A Lid On The Stock Market Tumble And Cable News Coverage Of Mounting Deaths Around The World.” “The grim news and the angst on Capitol Hill is threatening to overwhelm the messaging from President Donald Trump and some of his aides, who have been trying to downplay the situation in hopes they can put a lid on the stock market tumble and cable news coverage of mounting deaths around the world. Trump’s advisers and political allies are increasingly concerned that a botched response could hurt the U.S. economy and put his reelection prospects at risk.” [Politico, 2/25/20

Washington Post: Trump “Remains Worried Than Any Large-Scale Outbreak Could Hurt His Reelection Bid.” “The markets fell as the outbreak grew. On Jan. 31, the same day several airlines suspended flights and the United States announced its escalated response, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 600 points, or 2 percent. Trump grew concerned that any stronger action by his administration would hurt the economy, and he has told advisers that he does not want the administration to do or say anything that would further spook the markets. He remains worried that any large-scale outbreak could hurt his reelection bid.” [Washington Post, 2/16/20