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Sanders blasts Trump for picking 'completely unqualified' Pence for coronavirus response

 Sanders blasts Trump for picking 'completely unqualified' Pence for coronavirus response
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Trump leaves changed nation in his wake Cori Bush dismisses concerns of being 'co-opted' by establishment The Memo: Biden prepares for sea of challenges MORE (I-Vt.) slammed the Trump administration for picking Vice President Pence to lead the response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Concern about the coronavirus continues to grow, yet the Trump administration’s response has been inadequate, misleading, and dangerous,” Sanders said in a statement Thursday.

“By picking Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceHere's how presidents move into the White House in just hours on Inauguration Day New York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration Meghan McCain: Trump's legacy is DC looking like a 'war zone' MORE to lead the administration's response to the pandemic, Trump has not only chosen someone completely unqualified, but the president has made clear that he’s more concerned about his own politics than the health and safety of the country.”

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Sanders said the Trump administration must replace Pence with an expert on pandemics and disaster response. 

Pence’s office was tasked with overseeing the federal response to the disease. His office was also given authority over media response and messaging on the coronavirus, a person familiar with the arrangement confirmed Thursday. 

Pence tapped longtime health official and ambassador-at-large Debbie Birx to serve as the White House coronavirus response coordinator. 

In addition to blasting Pence as “unqualified” to lead the effort, Sanders said the response team should be staffed with experts and scientists, hitting Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinTreasury imposes additional sanctions on Cuba over allegations of 'serious human rights abuse' Treasury Department sanctions inner circle of Russian agent Derkach for election interference Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated MORE and White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE as “political cronies, not scientists.” 

Mnuchin and Kudlow, as well as Surgeon General Jerome Adams, were also announced as members of the White House coronavirus task force. 

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“We need a president who does not play politics with our health and national security,” Sanders said. 

He also called on Trump to sign the $8.5 billion coronavirus response funding proposed by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNew York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration Schumer: Trump should not be eligible to run for office again McConnnell, McCarthy accept Biden invitation to pre-inauguration church service MORE (D-N.Y.). 

A White House official directed The Hill to the Trump campaign for comment. An official for the campaign was not immediately available for comment.