Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday denied that President Donald Trump was trying to undermine pandemic mitigation efforts by stoking dissent against states’ stay-at-home orders.
On “Fox News Sunday“ and NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Pence was pressed about Trump’s comments on Twitter Friday that it was time to “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.
“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked Pence why Trump was trying to subvert guidance issued by the administration. Pence said that Trump wanted to reopen the economy “in a safe and responsible way.”
“Chuck,” Pence said, “I don’t accept your premise and I don’t think most Americans do either.”
Trump’s comments have ratcheted up tensions between the federal government and the states about efforts to attack the virus and prepare for an economic restart, as well as raised concerns about the behavior of some of his supporters.
“We’ll continue to work with governors to make sure that they have the guidance, that they have the council and they have the resources to accomplish that,” Pence said.
Trump put out the call to “liberate” as protests ramped up against safety guidelines designed to halt the spread of Covid-19.
Governors on Sunday complained that the Trump administration was setting unrealistic expectations about a ramp-up in testing needed to ease restrictions.
“The only thing that I’ve asked our protests to do is to observe social distancing,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said later on NBC. “We’re all big believers in the First Amendment. They were protesting against me yesterday, and that’s just fine.”
DeWine added: “They have every right to do that. We are going to do what we think is right, what I think is right. And that is try to open this economy, but do it very, very carefully so we don’t get a lot of people killed.”