Vice President Mike Pence called out the “outrageous and irresponsible rhetoric” on Sunday that he says some Democrats are using to politicize the coronavirus.
Last week, President Donald Trump appointed Pence as the head of the coronavirus task force.
Although he stopped short of accusing Democrats of “weaponizing” the disease to attack Trump, as some Republican supporters have done, Pence told NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” “The president took decisive action to protect the American people” that warranted “voices on our side pushing back on outrageous and irresponsible rhetoric.”
Host Chuck Todd suggested that the Democrats were not playing political games. “What facts are there that Democrats are doing this? It seems like people are asking questions and are concerned about the virus. This implies some sort of political motivation, which is kind of gross.” (RELATED: Traveler ‘Cleared’ Of Coronavirus Appears On Fox News, Coughs On Child While Saying ‘It Is Contagious’)
“Well, I will tell you there’s been a lot of irresponsible rhetoric among Democrats and commentators on the left.”
Todd demanded that Pence, “Name some names … Because this just feels like gaslighting. Please name some names. We’re all … big people here.”
Pence cited a column in The New York Times “by a prominent liberal journalist that said we should rename it the Trump virus.” He reminded the NBC host that “this virus began in China” and that the president cannot “be blamed.”
“The president took decisive action to protect the American people,” said Pence, who called out the “outrageous and irresponsible rhetoric on the other side.”
On Friday, Trump accused CNN of trying to “stoke a national coronavirus panic.”
“Anti-Trump Network @CNN doing whatever it can to stoke a national Coronavirus panic. The far left Network pretty much ignoring anyone who they interview who doesn’t blame President Trump.” @trish_regan @FoxNews Media refuses to discuss the great job our professionals are doing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2020
Instead of acknowledging the attacks from the left, Todd asked, “Do you think the rhetoric from your side helps?” (RELATED: US Official Shuts Down Chinese Reporter For Claiming China ‘Contained’ Coronavirus)
“I never begrudge people responding to unwarranted, unjustified attacks. But I promise you, we are going to continue to focus on the mission the president has given this task force and given this government, and that is we’re going to bring the full resources of the federal government to bear,” Pence responded.
The vice president promised that “the American people can be confident that we’re going to continue to work this issue.” Pence said despite the acrimony between the president and the House of Representatives “we’re going to work with leaders with both parties in Congress to make sure not only our federal agencies have all the resources they need.”
“Remember, Chuck, this is about the lives of the American people.”