Vice President Mike Pence defends Trump organizing rallies amid coronavirus

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“Unsurprisingly, part of the politics is playing out because in Nevada this governor actually made sure that the president was denied access to three or four different outside sites, which would have been our first choice. . But look, we have every confidence because we are continuing to see cases go down, hospitalizations go down and, most importantly, deaths go down and, as we reopen, as our economy returns, we will reopen our schools. We can trust Americans to make the right decisions, given the best information, to put the health of their families and communities first as we bring this country’s economy back and bring our nation back to the end. . ”

The Nevada governor’s office told ABC News in a statement that they “have no involvement or communication with event organizers or potential hosts regarding proposed campaign events advertised by the Trump campaign.” Governor Steve Sisolak has placed limits on public and private gatherings of up to 50 people to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Asset tweeted a photo of his Tuesday night rally in Pittsburgh showing the packed event.

Davis showed Pence, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the president’s photo and asked how he could justify such a scene given conflicting advice from health experts seeking to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“We trusted the governors of our states and most importantly we trusted the American people,” Pence said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has limited outdoor events and gatherings to 250 people, a figure clearly violated by the Trump campaign. But it’s not just social distancing recommendations that are being ignored at the president’s rallies – very few people wear masks.

On September 16, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, told the Senate that he believed “face masks are the single most important public health tool we have,” but Trump mocked his Democratic presidential opponent Joe Biden for hugging them.

When asked if he is concerned about the optics of placing political aspirations above American lives, Pence reiterated to Davis that Americans know enough to take care of themselves.

“The American people, over the past eight months, have demonstrated their ability to put the health of their families and neighbors first,” he said.

The president also organized his rally just hours after the US coronavirus death toll surpassed 200,000. The United States, which has about 4% of the world’s population, accounts for 20% of the world’s death toll.

Davis asked Pence to explain this, but he didn’t get a direct response, instead defending the administration’s efforts, which he said “have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”

“This is a heartbreaking milestone, and – and really, our – our hearts are with all of the families who have lost loved ones during this pandemic,” Pence said. “I am absolutely convinced that because of President Trump’s decisive action, because of the dedication of health officials at the national and federal levels, of our doctors and nurses in hospitals across the country, and because of the sacrifices of the American people fact, that we have saved hundreds of thousands of lives that could have been lost in the midst of this pandemic. ”

Pence pointed to Trump’s travel restrictions from China that went into effect on February 2, but an ABC News investigation found some 18,000 Americans returned home from China in February and March.

In 18 official talks with Bob Woodward, Trump also admitted in a phone call on Feb.7 that he knew the virus was “deadlier” than the flu, even as he staged crowded campaign rallies. until March 2 and several times. minimized its severity.

“I always wanted to minimize,” Trump told Woodward, saying he “didn’t want to create panic”.

During the pandemic, he called the virus similar to the flu and that it would “go away,” telling George Stephanopoulos, chief presenter of ABC News, at a town hall in Philadelphia that he actually had “Played” the danger. of illness and had no regrets about his response.

At a rally in Ohio on September 21, Trump falsely claimed that the virus affects “virtually no one”, claiming it was only old people and “that’s it.” Davis asked Pence if he agreed with Trump’s assessment and if this was another example of the president playing down the virus.

“I have never heard the president downplay the coronavirus,” he said. “What the president made clear is that this is an infectious disease that has affected people across the country. “

As the nation mourns the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the vice president said he remembers her as a “steadfast supporter of her judicial philosophy” and told Davis that Trump will soon appoint ” a woman who will bring a judicial philosophy into the tradition of Justice Antonin Scalia. ”

“It will focus entirely on choosing a woman who brings the experience, the intellect and the judicial philosophy that is – that is consistent with the judges the President has appointed and the more than 200 federal judges we have appointed to the courts, ”Pence added.

Trump said he would announce his White House nominee on Saturday.

One of the main candidates for the vacancy is Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a former Notre Dame law professor who served as a clerk at Scalia. She is a devout Catholic and a favorite choice of religious conservatives who see an opportunity to topple Roe vs. Wade, although Barrett has not ruled on any abortion-related cases.

“Justice Barrett is an extraordinary jurist,” said Pence. “And she is one of a number of women who are currently being investigated. ”

The 2020 presidential campaign was shaped by mass protests over the deaths of black Americans, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, by white police officers, and protests calling for racial justice.

On Wednesday afternoon, a Kentucky grand jury indicted an officer for endangering his neighbors in the March 13 shooting that killed Taylor, but after months of calls for justice in his case, no other officer involved in his murder has not been charged.

“What happened to Breonna Taylor was a tragedy,” Pence said. Asked by Davis what he would say to protesters calling for systemic change, he moved the question to the scenes of riots and looting in some American cities, although the vast majority of those protesting the injustice race were peaceful.

“We will support law enforcement,” Pence said. “We owe nothing less to our black families across the country than safety on our streets, and we will continue to work to advance this cause – and remain very confident that when tragic circumstances arise justice will be served. ”

During campaign speeches, Pence regularly tells his supporters that “Joe Biden says America is systemically racist and law enforcement, in his words, has an ‘implicit bias against minorities.’

A study conducted by researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that black men are three times more likely to be killed by police than white men. Davis asked Pence if black and white men are treated the same by American police.

“President Trump and I believe that the men and women who serve in law enforcement of all races, creeds and colors are some of the best people in this country,” the vice president replied. “And we reject the idea of ​​Joe Biden and others that there is an implicit bias against minorities in law enforcement. “



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