Right after Donald Trump misrepresented the number of people in the U.S. infected by coronavirus and announced his big plan to put Mike Pence in charge of the response, four of the Democratic presidential candidates did town hall events on CNN Wednesday night and had things to say.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg all spoke up for science, in sharp contrast to Trump. As Klobuchar said, about Pence’s role at the head of coronavirus response, “Well, I would think, usually, you might put a medical professional in charge.”
Warren, too, hit Pence’s role hard, describing him as “actively disqualified” because of his HIV outbreak history. “This vice president has dealt with a public health emergency before, in Indiana,” she said. “And what was his approach? It was to put politics over science and let a serious virus expand in his state and cost people lives. He is not the person who should be in charge.”
Warren said she’d be coming out with a plan “to take every dime that the president is now spending on his racist wall at our southern border and divert it to work on the coronavirus.”
Bloomberg pointed to what Trump has already done to make the U.S. less prepared. “Number one, he fired the pandemic team two years ago. Number two, he's been defunding Centers for Disease Control. So, we don't have the experts in place that we need,” Bloomberg said. “I hope he's right that the virus doesn't come here, that nobody gets sick. That would be a wonderful outcome. But the bottom line is, we are not ready for this kind of thing.”
Biden, unsurprisingly, referred back to what the Obama administration did on Ebola—not just funding, but “we made sure that we were able to be honest with the American people, so that we had complete—a complete unity between the scientists and the president, in this case, Ron Klain, who was putting together for the president.”
Biden also said, “what I would do were I president now, I would not be taking China's word for it. I would insist that China allow our scientists in to make a hard determination of how it started, where it's from, how far along it is. Because that is not happening now.”
The thing about Trump’s completely incompetent response, prioritizing appearances for the sake of the stock market, refusing to admit how many people in the U.S. are infected, and putting an anti-science crusader with partial responsibility for one disease outbreak under his belt, is that it leaves an awful lot for Democrats to say—not just criticisms to make but plans to propose. Unfortunately, right now Donald Trump is in charge, so we won’t be getting the well-grounded strategies but rather the lies and bluster.