Former Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt: “This Would Not Have Happened” If Obama Were President

Former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt criticized President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response, saying that the United States would not have the highest death toll from the virus in the world if former President Barack Obama were still in office.

“If Barack Obama was the president of the United States, this would not have happened,” Schmidt told MSNBC’s Ari Melber. “We would have had competent professional people. We would have done what we needed to do early.”

Schmidt pointed out that the federal response under Obama would have mirrored “what happened during the Ebola crisis.” (At the time, Obama deployed United States personnel to West Africa to fight the Ebola outbreak, leading a worldwide response that brought cases down “80 percent from peak levels.”)

“We would have had someone like Ron Klain in charge of it, not the confederacy of dunces that we see running around the West Wing,” he continued, adding that “no amount of gaslighting, delusion, fantasy happy talk” from President Trump would alter the reality that it will take years for the United States to recover from the financial devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

You can watch the exchange below.

Schmidt also had harsh words for Trump’s decision to leave a press conference yesterday following exchanges with CBS’s Weijia Jiang and CNN’s Kaitlin Collins.

“He’s shown a terrible example to the country. One of the most important qualities of leadership in a moment of crisis like this is the ability to talk honestly, directly, clearly, so people understand what is the situation,” Schmidt said. “So right now, the country in many ways is opening back up, but it’s not opening back up because of coronavirus, Covid-19 is diminishing, because there’s less cases or there’s less deaths. It’s opening up because Donald Trump thinks it’s politically expedient for it to be opened back up, and to get the economy moving.”