Vice President Mike Pence defended the Trump campaign’s decision to resume its in-person rallies despite a record-setting spike in coronavirus cases.
At a White House coronavirus task force public briefing Friday – the group’s first in nearly two months – a reporter asked Pence why the Trump campaign pushed ahead with the rallies despite warnings from hundreds of public health officials.
“The freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, is enshrined in the constitution of the United States,” replied Pence, who leads the task force.
“And we have an election coming up this fall,” he added. “We still want to give people the freedom to participate in the political process, and we respect that.”
Another reporter ripped into Pence for justifying the public gatherings while insisting that people should follow state and local social distancing guidelines.
“Even in a health crisis, the American people don’t forfeit our constitutional rights,” Pence said. “I think it’s really important that we recognize how important freedom and personal responsibility to this entire equation.”
—@PaulaReidCBS to Pence: "It really does sound like you're saying, 'Do as we say, not as we do.' You're telling people to listen to local officials, but in Tulsa you defied local health officials…How can you say that the campaign is not part of the problem?" pic.twitter.com/96dkjow28L
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 26, 2020
Pence said that he and Trump believed in “taking proper steps” in their approach to hosting rallies amid the pandemic.