Shortly after the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic reached 1,500 on Friday, President Donald Trump took to the podium at a White House press briefing and complained that certain state’s governors are not “appreciative” enough of the federal government’s help—so much so that he said he’d told Vice President Mike Pence, the leader of the coronavirus task force, to skip calling governors of some hard-hit areas.
Trump singled out the Democratic leaders of Washington and Michigan, noting that he had advised Pence not to call them as the healthcare crisis plagues their states and people fall sick and die.
“He calls all the governors,” Trump said. “I tell him, I mean, I’m a different type of person. I say Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan.”
“If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said.
“We have done a hell of a job,” Trump said. “The federal government has really stepped up.”
Trump’s message to governors was that he wants “them to be appreciative.”
The president’s comments Friday come as the coronavirus pandemic continues to shut down American life and states across the nation show a lack of uniformity on aggressive public health measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
Earlier this week, Trump began to push on an Easter timeline to re-open the country, despite warnings that such a timeline was unwise. Even some Republican governors have pushed back. Despite his earlier emphasis on Easter, he hedged when asked about the topic Friday.
“I certainly want to get it open as soon as possible, I don’t want it to be long,” Trump said. “But we also want it to open safe, otherwise, what did we do?”
At the start of the coronavirus task force briefing Trump said the nation’s governors “have been very gracious, for the most part.”
“A couple that aren’t appreciative of the incredible job,” Trump said. “They have to do a better job themselves, that’s part of the problem.”
He continued to praise his administration’s work, while scorning Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as “a failed presidential candidate.”
“He leveled out at zero in the polls,” Trump said. “He’s constantly chirping and I guess complaining would be a nice way of saying it.”
He then jumped to attacking another Democratic governor, Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer.
“Michigan, all she does is, she has no idea what’s going on,” he said. “And all she does is say, ‘Oh, it’s the federal government’s fault.’ And we’ve taken such great care of Michigan.”
Before long, Gov. Phil Murphy in New Jersey and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York were mentioned as Democrats who have been kinder.
If New Jersey’s governor were asked how the federal government is doing, Trump mused, “I think he’d say great. I think. He’s a Democrat.”