Mike Pence Clashes With Wolf Blitzer Over Donald Trump’s ‘Belittling’ Of Coronavirus Threat

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on after a news conference with Vice President Mike Pence in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.
Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

In a Wednesday interview on CNN, Vice President Mike Pence was forced to defend Donald Trump‘s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in a spar with Wolf Blitzer, Raw Story reported. At one point, Blitzer noted Trump’s previous suggestion that the virus was “under control” and would “disappear.”

“What happened?” Blitzer asked. “Why was the U.S. so late in understanding the enormity of this coronavirus?”

Pence appeared to push the blame onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noting that in January, the agency was still in the process of “assessing the risk” of COVID-19 and allegedly said the risk was “low,” CNN reported. Afterward, Blitzer accused Trump of “belittling the enormity” of the pandemic and suggested his response was unhelpful.

“Well, Wolf, respectfully, I’d take issue with two things that you just said,” Pence responded.

“I don’t believe the president has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus.”

Blitzer was quick to point out Trump’s previous comments, such as his comparison of COVID-19 to the common flu, as well as his assertion that the number of cases would quickly return to zero.

“Well, the president is an optimistic person,” Pence responded.

Pence has been forced to defend Trump on multiple occasions during the coronavirus crisis. As reported by Breitbart, the president took flak earlier in March for continuing to shake hands as the coronavirus was spreading and public health officials pushed for social distancing.

In response to a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, Pence defended Trump’s decision to continue shaking hands and noted that he also still engages in the practice.

“As the president has said, in our line of work, you shake hands when someone wants to shake your hand,” Pence said.

“I expect the president will continue to do that, I’ll continue to do it,” he added later in his response.

As noted by CNN, Trump’s approach to the coronavirus has shifted dramatically over the past two months. On Tuesday, Trump warned that the two weeks ahead would be “painful” and “tough,” predicting that up to 240,000 Americans could die from the pandemic.

As The Inquisitr reported, the president noted the increased severity of the coronavirus compared to the flu at a Tuesday White House press briefing. The comment was a notable shift from previous remarks, including one where he appeared to compare the disease with the average virus or germ. While the flu reportedly kills approximately 0.1 percent of all people infected, coronavirus kills between 1.4 and 2 percent.