News & Politics

White House Defends Decision to Keep Pence Campaigning After Some Staff Test COVID-Positive

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows defended the decision to keep Vice President Mike Pence on the campaign trail in spite of some key aides testing positive for the coronavirus.

The White House is arguing that Pence is an “essential worker” and can therefore keep working. CNN’s Jake Tapper questioned whether campaigning is “essential work.”

The Hill:

When asked how campaigning is “essential work,” Meadows said, “Well, actually he’s not just campaigning, he’s working,” citing the administration’s Middle East peace agreement.

Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short and adviser Marty Obst have both tested positive for COVID-19. Pence has tested negative for the virus.

Trump campaign advisor Corey Lewandowski pointed out that Kamala Harris kept campaigning after her staffers tested positive.

“I’m sure he’ll do what’s necessary and what’s appropriate,” Lewandowski said referring to Pence. “And look, we’ve also seen Kamala Harris’ team — members of her team come down with COVID and she took the necessary precautions.”

“So, let’s see where this goes, but I have not spoken to the team directly on that,” he said referring to Pence quarantining.

The notion that Pence is “essential” is a dodge. The reason the vice president is on the campaign trail and will stay on the campaign trail even if he drops dead is that we’re 10 days from the election and Trump needs him — his star power, his popularity with evangelicals and in the Midwest — to help him in his re-election fight. This is a fight for the highest office in the land and the most powerful office in the world.

This isn’t grub stakes these people are playing for. They see it as a fight for the soul of America and in this kind of take-no-prisoners war, it’s all hands on deck. So rules or no rules, Pence will be “essential” and the media be damned.

The press is trying to make a political point about Pence aides testing positive. They’re making a political point about the number of positive tests, the slowly filling hospitals, and the number of dead. There is nothing about this pandemic that they won’t politicize to the most severe degree.

The fact that Europe is in even worst shape should raise questions in America about whether anything Trump could have done differently would have made a difference. But it won’t. That might distract from the “It’s all Trump’s fault because he’s incompetent” attack plan, which appears to be working to perfection.

Yes, Pence should probably quarantine himself. At least that would make Dr. Fauci happy. As for the Trump campaign, there was never any chance that would happen.

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