Here's How Worried About COVID-19 the 2020 Democratic Primary Candidates Were

AP Photo/John Locher

From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stand on stage before a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)



At Sunday night’s White House briefing, President Trump asked the group to guess which three words were not mentioned once during the first three Democratic Presidential Primary debates. The answer? Coronavirus, virus, COVID-19.

I found that fascinating given what’s become the Democrats’ mantra over the last month or so. ‘If the President had acted earlier, the situation wouldn’t be this grave.’

I went straight to Google and found an op-ed in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal written by former diplomat Dave Seminara, where the President had obviously learned this information.

Two days ago, Joe Biden tweeted, “Donald Trump is not responsible for COVID-19, but he is responsible for our slow, uncoordinated response. Experts say that if we had acted two weeks earlier, more lives could have been saved. Trump failed to take swift action—and we’re paying the price.”

For all of their concern and criticism of President Trump’s handling of the crisis, Seminara notes there was “no mention of the coronavirus at either the January 14 or the February 19 debates. At the February 7 debate, “Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar mentioned China, but only in the context of climate change. Pete Buttigieg said: “The next president is going to face challenges from global health security, like what we’re seeing coming out of China,” but he didn’t frame this as an immediate danger.”


At the February 25 debate, Seminara writes:

Mr. Buttigieg was the first Democratic candidate to mention the coronavirus explicitly, on Feb. 25 in South Carolina. His only policy suggestions, if you can call them that, were for the president to “listen to scientists, listen to your own intelligence and coordinate with an international community that this president has alienated because his idea of a security strategy is a big wall.”

CBS’s Gayle King later queried the candidates about closing the border to Americans who’d been exposed to the virus. Ms. Klobuchar vaguely asserted that she would “better coordinate throughout my presidency to be ready for the next pandemic and to prepare for this one” and said she favored “investing in education” because “I know the vaccine is out there in the head of some kid right now in school.”

Mr. Biden rambled about Ebola and establishing an office in the White House to handle pandemics and spoke of increasing funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Mr. Sanders said much the same. Tom Steyer briefly mentioned the coronavirus before declaring that “the biggest threat to America right now in terms of our safety of our citizens is climate.”


During the March 15 debate, on the eve of the first week of our quarantine, many of the questions concerned the coronavirus. This was the first debate which included only Biden and Sanders.

One of the most remarkable observations Seminara made was this: At no point during any of the debates did a Democratic candidate suggest that the country should have been locked down or taken other social-distancing measures sooner. 




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