Vice President Mike Pence went rogue in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News Saturday this weekend.
Despite concerns from many in the media over the potential consequences of reopening the country too soon in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Pence said backstage following an event with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Saturday that he and President Donald Trump are “grateful” that “50 states — all 50 states — have begun the process of reopening their economies.”
Pence, who was tapped by Trump to head the White House’s coronavirus task force early on in the outbreak, told Breitbart that his pandemic response team was first directed to “publish guidelines for opening up America” in April. And though several target dates for reopening have been missed, the White House remains focused on that goal.
“Nobody wants to reopen this country more than President Donald Trump,” he said, according to Breitbart. “So we equipped governors around the country to be ready for when the ’45 Days to Slow the Spread’ came to an end.”
“A choice between health and health”
While The New York Times has confirmed that all 50 states are slowly starting the process of opening back up their doors as new cases of COVID-19 decline in the U.S., Pence on Saturday pointed to Kemp as well as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as examples of state leaders who have made the right calls throughout the pandemic and the reopening process.
“Georgia and Florida and other states around the country evaluated the cases in their state, evaluated the data, and have been and have taken steps that are now demonstrating that we can safely and responsibly reopen our economy without putting the people of this country’s health and wellbeing at risk,” Pence told Breitbart. “The people of Georgia are doing it, and I couldn’t be more proud to be here.”
The vice president also lauded Kemp and DeSantis for recognizing the true nature of the public health crisis, which he suggested is far more than just a viral pandemic.
“I think Gov. Kemp also and Gov. DeSantis also recognize that this isn’t a choice between health and a growing economy. It really is a choice between health and health,” Pence told Breitbart. “There are serious health consequences if we were to continue indefinitely the lockdowns that we asked the American people to embrace for 45 days.”
“Get this country open again”
Later in his interview with Breitbart, Pence explained that he and others in the Trump administration are “committed to being a full partner with states” as they begin the process of reopening.
“When the president tapped me to lead the White House coronavirus task force, he directed me to forge a seamless partnership with governors around the country of both political parties. We’ve done that,” Pence reportedly said Saturday. “But the president and I truly believe we [have] got to get this country open again. There are profound costs that go well beyond the economy to a prolonged shutdown.”
The vice president also took the time to point out how far scientists have come in their understanding of the coronavirus in just a few short weeks. “We knew early on that the coronavirus was several times more contagious than the common flu. But there’s been hopeful developments as well,” he said, according to Breitbart. Pence went on:
We’ve seen that because of what the American people have done and the sacrifices they’ve made that, despite the fact we’re dramatically increasing testing, cases are still going down. Positivity rates are declining… So we’ve learned a great deal about the impact of social distancing.
It’s nice to hear some good news about the virus for a change — and just in time for Memorial Day weekend.