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NBC’s Chuck Todd presses Pence on ‘irresponsible rhetoric’ from Democrats on virus

NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview broadcast Sunday pressed Vice President Pence on his condemnation of “irresponsible rhetoric” from Democrats on the coronavirus, asking him to cite specific examples.

Todd played a series of clips from conservative commentators, including talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who accused Democrats of having “weaponized” the virus, and Donald Trump Jr., who said his father’s opponents were trying to “take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump’s streak of winning.”

“None of this seems to match the facts. What facts are there that Democrats are doing this? … Seems like people are asking questions, and they’re concerned about the virus. This, this implies some sort of political motivation, which is kind of gross,” Todd said.

“Well, I will tell you, there’s been a lot of irresponsible rhetoric among Democrats and commentators on the left,” Pence, who was chosen to lead the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, said. 

“Name some names, sir. Because it just feels like gaslighting. Please name some names. We’re all big people here. Name some names,” Todd responded.

Pence eventually cited a New York Times column by Gail Collins, whom he did not name, with the headline “Let’s Call It Trumpvirus,” demurring when Todd asked if that applies “to all people.”

“So you think the entire Democratic Party is doing this?” Todd later asked. 

Pence replied, “No, but there have been irresponsible voices.”

After Todd continued to press Pence on whether the rhetoric from the right was helpful, the vice president responded, “I never begrudge people responding to unwarranted, unjustified attacks. But I promise you, we’re going to continue to focus on the mission the president’s given this task force and given this government. … We’re going to bring the full resources of the federal government to bear.”

During a separate appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” Pence said that this is “not a time for politics.”

“But responding to a kind of things that have been hurled is understandable,” Pence added, in reference to Trump Jr.’s remarks.

Pence also said lawmakers have been able to put politics aside in his conversations with Democratic leaders, adding that the response has been apolitical “with the exception of some barbs being thrown by some of the predictable voices and the public debate on the left.”

He would not concede that people on the right have made political jabs.

“I’m telling you that this is really a time for us to come together,” Pence added.

–Rebecca Klar contributed to this report, which was updated at 9:46 a.m.

Tags Chuck Todd Donald Trump

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