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Vice President Mike Pence disputed CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer’s contention Wednesday that President Trump downplayed the coronavirus threat and defended the administration against claims it didn’t do enough to prepare for the pandemic.
“It would have been good if the president wouldn’t have been belittling the enormity of this crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, as he was. Now he’s finally on board,” Blitzer told Pence on Wednesday. He added that the not all of the country was “on the same page” and asked why the administration wouldn’t issue a national stay-at-home order.
“Well, Wolf, respectuflly I’d take issue with two things that you just said,” Pence responded. “I don’t believe the president has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus.”
Blitzer tried to interject repeatedly but Pence continued answering. “I think he’s expressed gratitude and confidence in health care workers in this country,” Pence said after some cross talk.
“The American people can be assured,” Pence added, “President Trump is going to continue to be confident that we will meet this moment.”
Blitzer countered by referencing Trump’s previous statements about the virus.
“He was saying at one point it wasn’t as bad as the regular flu, and he was talking about automobile accidents,” Blitzer said. “He seemed to be suggesting at one point there were 15 cases [and] it would get down to zero very quickly. That’s what I was basing that sentence on but go ahead and make your point.”
Pence responded by saying Trump was an “optimistic person.”
“From the very beginning, we suspended all travel from China,” Pence added, “and stood up the White House coronavirus task force in January. We have been hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.”