THE VILLAGES, Florida — Vice President Mike Pence told Breitbart News over the weekend that, after Democrat presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden oversaw 60 million Americans getting infected with swine flu—H1N1—America cannot trust Biden to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Pence, who had just wrapped a rally with several thousand supporters here on Saturday, sat down with Breitbart News aboard his and President Donald Trump’s campaign bus for a lengthy exclusive interview before flying back to Washington, DC. In the interview, topics covered included the economic recovery, the U.S. Supreme Court, Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) dodging on court-packing, and the coronavirus pandemic response.
Pence noted, as he did during his debate with Harris, that 60 million Americans were infected on Biden’s watch with the swine flu during the H1N1 pandemic. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, 60.8 million Americans contracted swine flu infections in the first year of that outbreak, from April 2009 to April 2010, while more than 273,000 were hospitalized but only 12,469 died.
Pence said that Obama and Biden did not ban travel from Mexico during that time and that Biden’s own former chief of staff, Ron Klain, has said the U.S. was lucky that the swine flu was not as deadly as other viruses like the coronavirus; otherwise it would have been a mass casualty event. By comparison, the coronavirus pandemic this year has seen just under eight million confirmed cases in the United States during the Trump administration—more than seven times less confirmed cases than during the Obama-Biden swine flu pandemic—but a higher number of deaths at more than 210,000 now. Original predictive models before the Trump administration’s various interventions to stop the coronavirus pandemic expected millions of dead Americans—with many millions more cases—meaning the actual numbers are much lower than expected at the outset in the spring.
“The H1N1 hits, and another thing you don’t see talked about… they didn’t shut down the border from Mexico,” Pence told Breitbart News. “So there’s no surprise Joe Biden opposed us shutting down travel from China. So H1N1 hits in spring 2009, their first year in office, and I’ll just quote Ron Klain , his chief of staff, who said, ‘we did every possible thing wrong.’ He said it was only a fortuity that the swine flu was not a mass casualty event. He said it was luck. Ron Klain said it was luck. It’s true, because they did a terrible job. I actually read once they actually stopped testing in the summer, so when it came roaring back in the fall, they had nothing. Now, thankfully, it wasn’t as deadly as the coronavirus. If It was as deadly as the coronavirus, we would have lost two million Americans. As it was, we lost some nearly 14,000 Americans, which was 70 percent of the global fatalities. You hear that sometimes about the percentage of global fatalities that were in the United States. That was 70 percent of global fatalities, during swine flu, which were in the United States.”
Pence is correct that Biden’s own chief of staff Ron Klain panned Biden’s performance on this. Klain said of Biden’s and Obama’s response to swine flu:
What I will say about it is a bunch of really talented and great people were working on it and we did every possible thing wrong. Sixty million Americans got H1N1 in that period of time, and it’s just purely a fortuity that this wasn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history. It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck.
As a result of all of this, as well as Biden opposing taking out Osama bin Laden and the Obama-Biden administration failing to rescue Kayla Mueller from ISIS, and more, Pence said Biden cannot be trusted to lead the United States through national security, economic, and public health crises.
“We can’t trust Joe Biden to be in the Situation Room,” Pence told Breitbart News. “As someone who opposed the strike on Bin Laden when Obama was president. They hesitated to move on a military effort to save Kayla Mueller. He criticized President Trump’s decision to take out Qassem Soleimani and frankly we can’t trust him at the helm of our economy, and based on his record on swine flu, we can’t trust Joe Biden to deal with the pandemic.”
Asked also about his answer during the debate last week with Harris when he laid out how Biden’s coronavirus plan just lifted—Pence used the word “plagiarized”—from things the Trump administration already did, Pence walked through several actions he oversaw as chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force since early this year.
While Biden’s “plan” is just a rehash of the Trump plan, it does leave out several elements like the travel ban from China and Europe that Trump implemented—which Biden originally called “xenophobic”—and also avoided the issue of nursing homes. Under the watch of Democrat governors, like New York’s Andrew Cuomo and others, nursing homes have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, in large part because Cuomo and these other Democrat governors issued edicts in contravention of federal guidelines forcing nursing homes to take coronavirus-positive patients, which therefore led to wide scale outbreaks in the facilities, exacerbating the pandemic.
“I just heard Joe Biden and Kamala Harris talking about us not having a plan,” Pence told Breitbart News. “At the president’s direction, I’ve been leading the White House Coronavirus Task Force for eight months, and so I looked at their plan. They said greatly expand testing, expand the availability of PPE and supplies, make sure hospitals have the support that they need, and develop new medicines and develop a vaccine—all of which we’ve been doing every day. To your point, it didn’t include a travel plan. In fact, their so-called playbook they left us made no mention of travel bans. In fact, Joe Biden would say in January in an editorial in USA Today that the travel ban was fear mongering and would make things worse. He called it ‘xenophobic’ and ‘hysterical.’ Their playbook also included no reference to nursing homes, whereas our plan, as I said at another venue today, from early on we understood that seniors, particularly seniors with underlying health conditions, were most at risk. So we immediately raised the infectious disease standards at every nursing home, provided PPE and supplies literally shipped directly to nearly 15,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities. We shipped rapid test devices to nearly 15,000 nursing homes, and we just got new tests, these little rapid flip-card tests, and we prioritized nursing homes as well as well as other vulnerable populations like the Native American population.”
Pence also pointed back to the so-called “playbook” that the previous administration—former President Barack Obama, and his vice president Biden—left behind for the Trump administration to deal with pandemics and noted there were serious flaws in it.
“In their playbook—the Obama-Biden playbook that you don’t hear about much anymore because they may have taken a look at it and realized there’s not much there—they barely mention the private sector or nursing homes,” Pence told Breitbart News. “They have an entire section devoted to international aid.”
Despite the Obama-Biden team’s failure in helping the nation prepare for a pandemic, when it became clear the U.S. needed a response to this Pence said that President Trump harnessed the power of the government and the private sector to get everything the country needed. As such, no person in the United States has been denied a ventilator who needed one—and now there ais wide-scale availability of masks, personal protecting equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer, and more.
“What’s amazing to me, and inspiring to me, is the way this businessman-turned-president immediately said, ‘get these companies in here, they’re going to be a full partner with us whether it’s testing, whether it’s PPE, whether it’s ventilators,’” Pence said. “When we took over, after they went through the H1N1—they emptied the strategic national stockpile in 2009. They left it empty for seven years. When we came in, we had 15,000 ventilators. Now we have more than 150,000 ventilators. Nobody who has ever required a ventilator has ever been denied a ventilator in the United States. We worked with General Motors, GE, Ford—they all repurposed manufacturing to build ventilators.”