PRESIDENT Donald Trump has denied downplaying the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, saying instead that he “up-played” the severity of the highly contagious virus.
At ABC News’ town hall The President and the People, Trump was asked on Tuesday night by an undecided voter why he would “downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities.”
President Trump on Tuesday denied downplaying the threat of the coronavirus pandemic at an ABC News town hall for undecided voters[/caption]
The Tuesday night event was moderated by ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos and held in Philadelphia, a key battleground state[/caption]
He quickly denied ever understating the severity of coronavirus.
Trump said: “Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action. My action was very strong.”
To back up his claim that he “up-played” the pandemic “in terms of action,” the president cited the travel bans he imposed on China and Europe in February and March, respectively.
When pressed by ABC News anchor and town hall moderator George Stephanopoulos about “his own words” about the virus threat, Trump asserted that he did “a very, very good job” with the travel bans.
He continued: “Whether you call it ‘talent’ or ‘luck,’ it was very important, so we saved a lot of lives when we did that.”
Trump fielded a wide range of questions from uncommitted voters at the event, which was held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – a key battleground state in his path to reelection.
Trump frequently contradicted the advice of infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci during his daily Coronavirus Task Force briefings[/caption]
When asked by an uncommitted voter why he would downplay a serious threat, Trump said: ‘I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action’[/caption]
Trump citied his travel bans on China and Europe earlier this year as evidence of his ‘very strong actions’ to quell the US outbreak[/caption]
He told Stephanopoulos that his international travel bans ‘saved a lot of lives’ despite the US death toll steadily creeping past 195,000[/caption]
The president has recently faced backlash for comments he made to journalist Bob Woodward in March that appeared to conflict with his dismissive stance on the pandemic at the time.
Early excerpts released last week from Woodward’s new book Rage revealed that Trump confessed to the author that the virus was “deadly stuff” during a February 7 interview.
Woodward collected interview recordings with the president where he made several comments – including that coronavirus could be five times “more deadly” than the flu.
Trump later admitted to downplaying the COVID threat to “reduce panic” hours after his initial comments were reported.
President Donald Trump confessed to Bob Woodward in a February 7 interview that he ‘downplayed’ the coronavirus pandemic threat[/caption]
Excerpts from Trump’s taped interview for his new book Rage were released last week[/caption]
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“You have to show leadership, and leadership is confidence in our country,” Trump said.
“I’m a cheerleader for this country,” the president said. “I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic.”
The president has slammed Woodward’s book, which was released on Tuesday, as “just another political hit job.”