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 SandersBriahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' Lawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action 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 PenceOfficers' powerful Capitol riot testimony underscores Pelosi's partisan blunder RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement 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 MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election Democrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer 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 SchumerBiden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy Pelosi, Schumer vow climate action: 'It is an imperative' 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.