WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump says he didn’t downplay the coronavirus pandemic, even though he told journalist Bob Woodward that he did so intentionally.
Trump said during an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia on Tuesday: “I actually, in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action. My action was very strong.” The answer came in response to a question from an undecided voter about why Trump would purposely downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families in minority communities.
Trump told the legendary Washington Post reporter that he always wanted to “play it down” because he didn’t want people to panic. He also called the virus “deadly stuff.” Trump’s comments were captured on a recording Woodward made for his latest book, “Rage,” which was published Tuesday.
Three days after delivering his “deadly” assessment in a private call with Woodward, he told a New Hampshire rally on Feb. 10, “It’s going to be fine.”
More than 195,000 people in the U.S. have died of the coronavirus, far more than any other country. More than 6.5 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S.
His Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, meanwhile, was in the battleground state of Florida on Tuesday for a roundtable with veterans in Tampa and a Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff event in Kissimmee.