US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence would lead the White House task force on COVID-19, the deadly new coronavirus spreading around the world. But critics are pointing out that Pence’s track record on health and science isn’t exactly reassuring.
Pence once called global warming a “myth,” downplayed the health risks of smoking, and as governor of Indiana, led his state into an HIV crisis by cutting funding to Planned Parenthood and initially opposing needle exchange programs. The vice president also has no medical experience.
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Critics were quick to point out the flaws in Trump’s plan:
Former Hoosier here 👋— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 27, 2020
Mike Pence said smoking doesn’t kill. He was single-handedly responsible for a statewide AIDS outbreak. And the lax gun laws he passed increased deaths across the Midwest.
Also, he doesn’t believe in science. 😬 https://t.co/w52rgwNH3N
“Mike Pence can fix this.”— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) February 27, 2020
- No one ever.
Mike Pence literally does not believe in science.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 27, 2020
It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic.
This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have. https://t.co/NhMPOusOWm
A science denier who claimed smoking didn’t cause cancer, and who enabled a HIV outbreak with his stance against needles, is now in charge of handling a global health emergency?— Morten Øverbye (@morten) February 27, 2020
Putting a science denier like Mike Pence in charge of the Coronavirius outbreak in the US? pic.twitter.com/f6fSsueX8S— rachel leishman (@RachelLeishman) February 27, 2020
Pence says coronavirus can’t be alone in a room with a woman who’s not it’s wife, so that’s nice— Christine Nangle (@nanglish) February 27, 2020
Mike Pence, the climate change science denier, is going to lead a task force which requires the scientific/medical profession’s input. What could go wrong? 🤦♂️😱 https://t.co/rT5IRKrzFD— TheDiaryofDaniel (@DiaryofDaniel) February 27, 2020
Mr. Pence is so skilled at public health protection that his cutbacks and personal religious decisions helped fuel an outbreak of HIV in Indiana. He is about WORST POSSIBLE CHOICE. https://t.co/1J5KSlZM9N— Regina Griffin (@Regina_Griffin) February 27, 2020
A matter of hours before Mike Pence announces coronversion therapy to cure those affected in the United States.— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) February 27, 2020
Remember when Trump put out those blank manila folders to "prove" he had divested his assets? Mike Pence is Trump's blank manila folder trotted out to "prove" he is dealing with the coronavirus.— Elizabeth de la Vega (@Delavegalaw) February 27, 2020
Putting Mike Pence in charge of the coronavirus response is like putting me in the Olympics and thinking I’ll take the gold in long-distance running. I’m completely unqualified and literally unable to do it. #CoronavirusOutbreak— Melissa Blake (@melissablake) February 27, 2020
After Trump—who just tapped Pence to lead the effort—turns his back, Sec. Azar seizes the room's attention to insist that HE remains the "chairman" but is glad to have the Veep "helping," while Pence stands motionless with a vacant middle-distance stare. So that happened. (yikes)— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 27, 2020
Trump has appointed Mike Pence to be in charge of Coronavirus response.— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) February 27, 2020
Under the theory that the person who helped perpetuate an unnecessary AIDS crisis when he was governor of Indiana has the right resume.
"He's got a certain talent for this," Trump says of Pence, who was just named to lead the government's coronavirus approach.— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) February 26, 2020
As Indiana governor Pence allowed an HIV outbreak in Scott County to spread to epidemic proportions because he slow-walked approval for needle exchanges.
In 2000, Mike #Pence wrote an op-ed stating that smoking doesn't kill people. Since then, he's made no effort to deny or clarify his bizarre claim. This is the man Trump put in charge of our country's protection from the #CoronaVirus. Science is real, Mike. Facts matter, Mike.— Dr. Jack Brown (@DrGJackBrown) February 27, 2020
Mike Pence who enabled a massive HIV outbreak by enacting TERRIBLE public policy is in charge of the Coronavirus outbreak. We have local transmission possible in California now with an admin hell bent on punishing communities who embrace their undocumented immigrants.— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) February 27, 2020
Given that Pence famously, massively fucked up the response to an HIV outbreak, he shouldn’t be the guy to handle the Coronavirus.— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) February 27, 2020
Like, what if we stopped picking the LEAST qualified people to handle things? What would that even be like? https://t.co/0T7qHSdA30
My dad (a doctor) had signs in every bathroom in our house that said, “Handwashing prevents infection!” with a teddy bear and a heart. I wouldn’t mind seeing those signs everywhere now. More effective than Pence.— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) February 27, 2020
Coronavirus czar Mike Pence recommends keeping a safe distance from any infected women and also uninfected women— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 26, 2020