News & Politics

Trump Says Dem Politicization of the the Coronavirus Is the 'New Hoax'

President Donald Trump pauses as he speaks during a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump held a rally in South Carolina on Friday night, the eve of the Democratic Party primary in that state.

The president addressed the growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus and accused the Democrats of politicizing the issue. All well and good, considering that’s exactly what they’re doing.

The president called the politicization of the coronavirus as “the new hoax.”

You can argue whether the president should try and minimize the crisis. To my mind, he struck pretty much the right note in his press conference: There’s no reason to panic, the disease is mostly contained, and few Americans have been infected.

The government’s response has been adequate, given how much we don’t know about the coronavirus. And yes, Democrats have pounced on the White House response, claiming it’s been too little and too late.

How much wouldn’t be “too little”? How “late” is “too late”? It’s wonderful to be in the political opposition during a crisis like this. You don’t have to propose solutions. Just point your finger at your opponent and keep looking into the camera.

After Trump had downplayed the risks of coronavirus, he reassured supporters that the White House was “magnificently organized” in fighting it. In fact, Trump’s administration spent the week jockeying among themselves to lead the response, while the stock market tumbled with losses not seen since the global financial crisis in 2008. White House officials and the president grew so concerned this week that Trump put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the response effort, swapping out his beleaguered health secretary.

None of that came up on Friday night, as Trump trash-talked his Democratic opponents in 2020 and characterized the coronavirus as the latest issue touching on border security.

Trump is going to take a hit on this issue. Schools are already closing, events are going to be canceled, and factories and offices are likely to be shut. The economy will slow down as the worldwide impact of the epidemic becomes apparent.

In the U.S., Pandora’s box has already been opened. New cases are springing up everywhere. The coronavirus can still be contained so that it doesn’t become a pandemic that infects millions. But time is growing short.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Trump asserted that the coronavirus was a hoax.