Donald Trump used his bully pulpit at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday to rail against “globalists” for the convoluted multi-national supply chains for medical equipment that made it initially difficult for the US to deploy resources in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What happens if you’re in a war and you have a supply chain where heavy supplies are given to you by other countries? And who are the people that thought of it? These are globalists. It doesn’t work. It certainly doesn’t work during rough times, bad times, and dangerous times,” Mr Trump said.
“We’ve learned a good lesson,” the president said of US companies’ outsourcing of medical manufacturing to other countries.
The president’s comments on Sunday about “reshoring” the medical supply chain were reflective of how the daily press briefings have largely become a nightly public relations campaign to defend his administration’s work against outside criticism that he was slow to take the coronavirus seriously.
“When they’re doing a good job, I want to make people feel good. I want the admiral to feel good. He’s worked so hard. Mike has worked so hard,” Mr Trump said of Admiral Brett Giroir, the president’s assistant secretary of health, and Vice President Mike Pence.
He read a paragraph from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal commending the administration’s health crisis response.
Mr Trump repeated a new favourite line of his that the US is the “king of ventilators,” citing comments from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that no one who needed a ventilator was denied one.
At two separate points during the briefing, the president played a video of Mr Cuomo at his own press briefing earlier in the day heaping praise on state health organisers and the federal government for helping New York build out its hospital capacity.
When the video abruptly ended the first time, Mr Trump complained that his White House communications team “left out the best part” — that is, more direct praise of the federal government’s assistance in New York.
Mr Trump outlined his plan to deliver Covid-19 testing swabs — one of the medical supplies states have said they’re most in need of — to states, which he reiterated are ultimately responsible for administering widespread testing to get Americans back to work.
“Swabs are easy. Ventilators are hard,” the president said.
Mr Trump said he is invoking the Defense Production Act to order a company — which he declined to name — to begin manufacturing more than 20m swabs per month.
States will get “so many swabs you won’t know what to do with them. That’s easy,” Mr Trump said.
Earlier in the briefing the president unpackaged and held up a testing swab for the TV cameras and photographers.
“Not very complicated,” he said, holding up the swab. “Does it remind you of something?”
He then reached into an inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out two Q-tips.
The president noted that the objects — testing swabs and Q-tips — were, in fact, different.
“It’s very sophisticated actually,” he said of testing swabs.