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 SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president 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 PenceStates battle each other for equipment in supply chain crunch Watch Live: Trump, White House coronavirus task force press briefing The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump gets new press secretary in latest shake-up 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 Terner MnuchinPhase-four virus relief hits a wall On The Money: Senate aims to quickly approve more small-business aid | Dems seek conditions on new funds for small-business loans | Pelosi says next round of relief will top T House GOP leaders back effort to boost small-business loans MORE and White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHealth care workers account for 20 percent of Iowa coronavirus cases Pressure mounts on Congress for quick action with next coronavirus bill Schumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House 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.