Trump calls coronavirus 'hysteria' the Democrats' 'new hoax'

President Donald Trump speaks, Friday Feb. 28, 2020, in North Charleston, S.C., during a campaign rally. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Trump at a campaign rally Friday in North Charleston, S.C. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

President Trump said Friday that criticism from Democrats over his handling of the coronavirus epidemic sweeping the globe is “their new hoax.”

“This is their new hoax,” Trump told a rally in North Charleston, S.C., the evening before the Democrats’ presidential primary.

“A virus starts in China, bleeds its way into countries around the world, doesn’t spread into the United States because of the actions I took and the Democrats’ single talking point is that it’s Donald Trump’s fault,” he thundered.

Earlier in the day, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney called the coronavirus “the hoax of the day” in an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in testimony before Congress, was asked by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., whether he agreed with Mulvaney’s assessment.

“I’m not gonna comment on what others are saying,” Pompeo replied.

Trump, echoing an emerging Republican talking point, said Democrats “want us to fail so badly” in fighting the coronavirus. “They’re willing to hurt our country.” His son Donald Trump Jr. put it more bluntly in an appearance on Fox News Friday morning, saying Democrats were rooting for the coronavirus to “kill millions of people.”

While a deadly disease seemed like an unusual topic at a raucous rally that also featured Trump’s signature attacks on the news media and undocumented immigrants, Trump also acknowledged that the coronavirus was indeed a threat to the U.S.

“Things happen in life and you have to be flexible. We are preparing for the worst,” Trump said, adding, “We are ready, totally ready.”

The president then asserted that his wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, a country that has so far reported only a single case of the virus, would help prevent the spread of epidemics.

“We must understand that border security is health security,” Trump said. “The Democrats’ policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health of all Americans and you see it with the coronavirus.”

Health officials warn that the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. is inevitable.


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