Former President Clinton ripped President Trump’s response to the coronavirus on Tuesday, accusing the president of dithering and spreading misinformation in the early days of the outbreak that he said resulted in the U.S. being hit harder by the pandemic.
Speaking from his home in Chappaqua, N.Y., on the second night of the virtual Democratic National Convention, Clinton said that instead of turning the Oval Office into a “command center” to address the pandemic, Trump turned the White House into a “storm center” that created additional “chaos.”
“At first, he said the virus was under control and would soon disappear,” Clinton said. “When it didn’t, he was on TV every day bragging on what a great job he was doing while our scientists waited to give us vital information. When he didn’t lie about the expert advice he was given, he ignored it. Only when COVID-19 exploded in more states did he urge people to wear masks. By then, many more were dying. … Did it have to be this way? No. COVID hit us much harder than it had to.”
The Trump campaign blasted back at Democrats, calling Clinton’s appearance a “betrayal” of the “Me Too” movement. The Republican National Committee responded by drawing attention to Clinton’s support of the trade deals the president has blamed for hurting American workers and sending jobs overseas.
Clinton’s address came on a night when Democrats are seeking to make the case that former Vice President Joe Biden is the leader the country needs to lead it out of the coronavirus pandemic and economic slowdown.
Clinton sought to cast Biden as a steady leader for a nation in crisis.
“Our party is united in offering you a very different choice, a go-to-work president,” Clinton said. “A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy. A man with a mission to take responsibility, not shift the blame. Concentrate, not distract. Unite, not divide. Our choice is Joe Biden.”
Democrats will officially nominate Biden on Tuesday night, setting up the general election fight with Trump.
Clinton’s remarks were preceded by brief statements from members of former President Kennedy’s family as well as former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter.
In taped remarks, former President Carter, who is 95 years old, called Biden a “loyal and dedicated friend” and described him as the right person to lead the country through uncertain times.
“Joe has the experience, character and decency to bring us together and restore America’s greatness. We deserve a person with integrity and judgment, someone who is honest and fair, someone who is committed to what is best for the American people,” he said.
Former President Carter, who served a single term as the 39th president of the United States, has been a vocal critic of Trump. Last year, he said he believed Trump won the 2016 election only because Russia interfered to help Trump defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
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