Trump pressed on why he took ‘foot off the gas’ on COVID response

President Trump pushed back at an undecided voter who claimed he “took his foot off the gas” on coronavirus mitigation, and at another questioner who said he “downplayed” the severity of the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic.

Paul Tubiana, a health researcher from Bethlehem in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, said during the ABC News town hall event in Philadelphia on Tuesday that he voted for the incumbent president in 2016 and was supportive of him until he noticed a change in the White House’s response a few months ago.

“I’m conservative, pro-life, and diabetic,” he told Trump, adding that he has had to dodge pedestrians who refuse to wear facemasks or social distance, despite guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

“I thought you were doing a good job with the pandemic response until about May 1 — then you took your foot off the gas pedal. Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?” he asked.

Trump rejected the assertion, offering a mild response:

“We really didn’t, Paul, we worked really hard on the pandemic,” Trump said. “It came off from China, they never should’ve let it happen.”

Trump recounted his administration’s work toward producing ventilators and personal protective equipment, accusing President Obama of leaving “the cupboards bare” when he left office in 2017.

“If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA and all the approvals,” he added.

Trump went on to ask Trubiana if he was from New York City, and the man replied that he was born there, but has lived in his current community 80 miles west of there for nearly two decades.

Trump said that when it came to Trubiana’s hometown, he provided city and state residents with a hospital ship and helped the local authorities establish a military field hospital in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, regretting aloud that they weren’t used as heavily as they could have been.

He then pulled a small device from his suit pocket and said it was a new groundbreaking test produced by Abbott Laboratories that had, in his words, literally just been released.

The president described the small cardboard test in his hand as…

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