Kamala Harris: 'Scared' Trump's 'incompetence' is responsible for COVID-19 deaths

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris on Thursday said President Trump’s long-known “incompetence” became deadly earlier this year at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic and that a “scared” Mr. Trump froze at the most consequential time.

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“It’s his obligation to protect us, and yet he has failed miserably,” Ms. Harris said in a speech in Washington, D.C. “Donald Trump’s incompetence is nothing new – that has always been on full display. But in January of this year, it became deadly.”

Ms. Harris said Mr. Trump was too busy fixating on the stock market and flattering Chinese President Xi Jinping despite his tough talk to get a handle on the COVID-19 crisis.

“Donald Trump stood idly by. And folks, it was a deadly decision,” said Ms. Harris, a senator from California. “Instead of rising to meet the most difficult moment of his presidency, Donald Trump froze. He was scared and he was petty and vindictive.”

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 180,000 people in the U.S. and ground the economy to a halt for part of the year, though the number of new daily cases has been trending down in recent weeks.

Ms. Harris spoke hours before Mr. Trump was scheduled to deliver his address to the Republican National Convention from the White House on Thursday evening.

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She said the GOP convention is designed solely to “soothe Donald Trump’s ego” and “make him feel good.”

Ms. Harris, the first woman of color to be on a major-party presidential ticket, also condemned the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin, which has sparked deadly protests and violence this week.

“People are rightfully angry and exhausted,” she said. “And after the murders of Breonna [Taylor], George [Floyd], and Ahmaud [Arbery] and so many others it’s no wonder people are taking to the streets.”

She said she supports peaceful protests, but not the looting and violence that has ensued. Two people were shot to death this week in Wisconsin.

“The reality is that the life of a black person in America has never been treated as fully human and we have yet to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law,” she said.

As she exited, Ms. Harris did not respond to questions on whether the officer who shot Mr. Blake should be charged and whether she plans to go to Kenosha.

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