Vice President Mike Pence was left flustered Wednesday when CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer confronted him about President Donald Trump’s lengthy period of downplaying the coronavirus threat, insisting the president is just an “optimistic person” and never “belittled” the crisis.
Discussing the White House coronavirus task force’s new dire projection that up to 240,000 Americans could die from the virus, Pence applauded efforts by various private and public entities to provide food and supplies to Americans now under stay-at-home orders.
“Yeah, I’ll just point out, it would have been good if the president wouldn’t have been belittling the enormity of this crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, as he was,” Blitzer bitingly noted during their Wednesday morning interview. “Now he’s finally on board.”
The CNN anchor went on to ask why the president hasn’t issued a national stay-at-home order since the White House’s models show a lower death rate based on such a lockdown.
Pence, however, took issue with Blitzer’s aside on Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic, claiming the president never “belittled the threat.” As he continued to insist his boss has only exuded confidence that “we will meet this moment,” Blitzer interrupted to provide the receipts.
“Let me just interrupt, respectfully, Mr. Vice President,” the CNN anchor stated. “What I’m suggesting that he was saying at one point, it wasn’t as bad as the regular flu and he was talking about automobile accidents.”
“He seemed to be suggesting that, at one point there were 15 cases, it would get down to zero very quickly,” he continued. “That was what I was basing that sentence on. But go ahead and make your point.”
Pence, visibly frustrated, reacted by defending the president’s early response to the growing crisis while claiming Trump was merely showing optimism during those first few weeks.
“Well, look, the president is an optimistic person,” the veep declared. “We’ve been from the very beginning, when the president suspended all travel from China and set up the White House coronavirus task force in January, we have been hoping for the best but planning for the worst, and that’s being worked out every single day.”