Mitch McConnell is taking back a claim that Barack Obama left no gameplan for how to deal with a pandemic. The Senate majority leader reversed his claim days after members of the Obama administration pointed out that they left a 69-page plan that some critics claim Donald Trump’s White House ignored.
Earlier in the week, McConnell took part in a Donald Trump campaign event with Lara Trump. While there, he said that Obama was not prepared for the possibility of an outbreak like COVID-19. After chiding Obama for his private criticism of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, McConnell went on to say that they did not leave the Trump administration with anything to prepare for it, via CNN.
“They claim pandemics only happen once every hundred years but what if that’s no longer true? We want to be early, ready for the next one, because clearly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this.”
That claim was immediately disputed by the former head of the Obama administration’s Ebola response team, Ronald Klain. Klain tweeted that they left a 69-page “Pandemic Playbook” that was ignored by the Trump administration. As CNN reported, the playbook included step-by-step advice on how to ask questions about the outbreak, and what decision-making process to follow.
“The color-coded, checklist-style document addresses issues like testing, funding, personal protective equipment, emergency declarations, border control measures, diplomacy, the use of the military, public communication, even mortuary services.”
On Thursday, McConnell walked back the statement that the Obama administration had left nothing behind for Trump to follow in a pandemic. Appearing on Fox News, he said that there was indeed a plan, via The Hill.
“I was wrong. They did leave behind a plan. I clearly made a mistake in that regard… As to whether or not the plan was followed and who is the critic and all the rest, I don’t have any observation about that because I don’t know enough about the details of that… to comment on it in any detail.”
Donald Trump has been criticized for his response to the coronavirus outbreak. Critics have said the president wasted critical time in the early weeks by not taking the virus more seriously, alleging the president failed to put measures in place to prepare. Trump offered predictions in the early weeks that the outbreak would go away soon, with what was then 15 cases soon going down to zero. Since then, more than 1.4 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, with more than 85,000 estimated to have died from complications connected to COVID-19.