U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic Vice President nomination during an acceptance speech for the largely virtual 2020 Democratic National Congress from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware on August 19, 2020.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday beat up President Donald Trump for failing to protect Americans from the coronavirus pandemic.
She accused him of "giving in" when he had to be "tough" with the Chinese government for refusing to share information about the virus months ago.
"Donald Trump stood by and, folks, it was a fatal decision," Harris said in a glowing speech ahead of Trump's own address to the Republican National Convention on Thursday night.
"We just needed a competent president. One who was willing to listen, lead, take responsibility, have a plan and get the job done," said the California senator.
But "Donald Trump has failed in the most basic and important task of being a President of the United States," Harris said. "It is his duty to protect us. Yet he failed miserably."
As of Thursday, nearly 5.9 million cases of Covid-19 had been officially reported in the United States, with at least 180,380 Americans having died from the virus.
The US has caused more than 25% of all coronavirus cases worldwide and more than 20% of all deaths from the virus.
Harris, who previously served as the California attorney general and the San Francisco district attorney, said, "Trump has shown what we in the legal profession would call a ruthless disregard for the welfare of the American people."
"A reckless disregard for the danger a pandemic would pose to American life," she said.
"For the devastation it would wreak on our economy, for the damage it would do to color communities that have been exposed to structural racism for generations. For the chaos that would change our daily lives, many of our children are making school impossible to make it impossible to live normally and safely. "
Harris said: "Trump's incompetence is nothing new … but it got fatal in January of this year."
She said this month as the risk to the United States and the rest of the world from the virus that first broke out in Wuhan, China became more apparent, "Trump dismissed the threat."
In contrast, Harris said former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, "sounded the alarm" about Covid-19.
Harris said that Trump persists until now in a pattern that would soon exist, "told us not to worry the virus will" go away ", a quote," miracle is coming ".
She accused Trump of lacking a plan to fight the outbreak in the United States, while Biden also called for a national strategy.
"Here's what you need to understand about the nature of a pandemic: It's relentless," Harris said.
"You can't stop it with a tweet. You can't create a distraction and hope it goes away. It doesn't go away. By nature, a pandemic is unforgiving. If you get it wrong in the beginning, the consequences are catastrophic. It's very much." difficult to catch up. You don't get a second chance to get it right. "
"Well, President Trump, he got it wrong from the start and then he kept getting it wrong," Harris said. "The consequences were catastrophic."
Harris said Trump was unable and unwilling to deal with the impending pandemic because "he was pegged on the stock market to fix the problem."
She said Trump believed that if he underscored the real threat the virus posed to the public, "it would affect the market and his chances of re-election."
"It was more important to him than saving American lives," she said.
Harris meets Trump on China
And "right at the moment we needed Donald Trump to be tough on the Chinese government, he gave in," said Harris.
She noted that on Jan. 24, Trump "praised the Chinese government's transparency."
"He said, quote:" China has worked hard to contain the coronavirus. The United States has greatly appreciated your efforts and transparency. It will all be fine, "" Harris said.
But, she added, the Chinese leaders "were not transparent".
Harris said the Chinese government has prevented officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from "gaining the access and information they need to protect American life".
"Instead of standing up to face the toughest moment of his presidency, Donald Trump froze. He was scared and petty and vengeful."
She pointed out that when he called US governors on March 16, Trump "told them it was not his job to bring personal protective equipment to the front line workers."
"He said" respirators, ventilators, all equipment, try to get it yourself, "" Harris said.
"On that day we had about 5,000 cases as a nation. Today we have nearly 6 million. Even now, about eight months into the crisis, Donald Trump is still not going to take responsibility," she said.
"He still won't act. The tragedy of all of this is that it didn't have to be that bad. Just look around. The rest of the world doesn't."
Tim Murtaugh, Trump's presidential campaign spokesman, said in an email: "Americans saw President Trump at the door and led the nation in the fight against the coronavirus."
"The president's task force met in January and restricted early travel from China and then Europe. At the time, Joe Biden criticized the decision, calling it" hysterical xenophobia "and" scare tactics "that we know Biden would not have done "We'd be in a far worse position today if Joe Biden had been president in January," said Murtaugh.
The spokesman also said that Trump "launched an unprecedented national effort involving both the government and the private sector to produce the equipment needed to protect Americans and enable them to do their jobs in the health care sector."
"We heard a lot about planned ventilator shortages in the early days, but the president was strategic in managing our existing supplies and ramping up production of new ventilators," said Murtaugh. "As a result, no American in need of a ventilator has been denied one. The president also built an unprecedented testing strategy, and the United States is the world leader in testing. This is in contrast to Joe Biden's" do nothing but criticize, refuse "approach and propose what the president has already done. "