NPR Analysis Of Trump's Choice Of V.P. Pence To Lead Coronavirus Response

Feb 27, 2020

V.P. Pence speaks about his role responding to the coronavirus during a press conference Feb. 26, 2020.

Reporting from Domenico Montanaro for NPR this morning on Morning Edition

Morning Edition Host, David Greene:

"The President cited Vice President Pence's experience with healthcare from when he was governor of Indiana. What do you know about his record there and how it could apply here?"

Domenico Montanaro, NPR Sr. Political Editor & Correspondent:

"The president was heaping praise on him but Pence is a pretty controversial pick to lead an infectious disease team. That's because when he was governor in 2015, Indiana saw an outbreak of HIV. The CDC and other health officials had been recommending at the time making clean needles available, but Pence has strong moral opposition to that. There was state law that barred that from happening and that really delayed getting clean needles out to stop the spread and it took Pence two months to come around to that view. So for now, Pence as a political pick makes some sense.  I mean he is a more careful messenger than Pres. Trump. and Trump's deferring to his career health officials at the CDC as you saw yesterday. But if coronavirus gets far worse in the U.S. and Pence is at the point of this, he is not a scientist and his record certainly opens up the president to criticism if it gets worse."