Democrats Pan Trump’s Coronavirus Response As Markets Plunge

With the Dow Jones industrial average suffering its worst two-day loss in history on fears of the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Democratic presidential contenders on Tuesday night tried to turn the tables on President Trump in an area long perceived as one of his strengths: the economy.

They characterized the Trump administration’s response to the outbreak as chaotic and misinformed during a Democratic primary debate in South Carolina.

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, accused Mr. Trump of undermining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which he said was no longer equipped to respond to the deepening global health crisis.

“What’s really happening here is the president fired the pandemic specialists in this country two years ago so there’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “He’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, C.D.C., so we don’t have the organization we need. As you see, the stock market is falling apart because people are really worried and they should be.”

“If the virus disappeared tomorrow, they would say we did a really poor, and even incompetent, job,” Mr. Trump said. “Not fair, but it is what it is. So far, by the way, we have not had one death.”

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