GOP memo tells senators to blame Trump's virus failures on 'political correctness'

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The memo also repeatedly urges senators to attack China and provides advice for defending against accusations that their comments are racist.

A memo written by a Republican campaign consultant and distributed by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee advises Republican senators not to defend Trump's slow and inept response to the coronavirus crisis, Politico reported Friday.

The 57-page memo, written by strategists at O'Donnell & Associates, urges candidates instead to blame Democrats, China, and the World Health Organization for the spread of the pandemic.

"Note - don't defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban -- attack China," the April 17 memo states twice. Tens of thousands of people have traveled from China to the U.S. since Trump instituted travel restrictions from the country in early February in what he has touted as a significant move against the spread of the virus.

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In a section titled, "Political Correctness Made this Crisis Worse," the memo advises Republicans to blame Democratic politicians in New York and New Jersey for making the crisis worse because they were "worried about social justice and identity politics." It criticizes them for being worried about losing progressive points and thus focusing too much on how policies would impact low-income families and communities.

In addition to telling GOP campaigns to blame Democrats, the memo repeatedly urges them to attack China, where the new virus was first detected, and provides advice for defending against accusations that their comments about the new coronavirus are racist.

"President Trump is right to call this the Chinese Virus," the memo states. Trump's has used the term many times.

In addition to blaming China for the spread of the virus, it also claims, "The WHO aided and abetted the Chinese hit-and-run, and advanced their cover up of the facts--they acted as the handmaiden of the Chinese Communist Party. China had campaigned for Tedros, the current director, and he owed them a favor."

National and international health experts have warned against using terms like "Chinese virus," China virus," or "Wuhan virus."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease."

In 2015, Keiji Fukuda, then the World Health Organization's assistant director-general for health security, said that what a virus is called "may seem like a trivial issue to some, but disease names really do matter to the people who are directly affected." Fukuda said that using such terms can "provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities."

Trump's response to the crisis, including lies about the coronavirus, is regularly criticized by medical professionals and other experts.

For weeks, Trump touted the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, as a cure for COVID-19. However, a small study of the drug by the Veterans Health Administration found that patients who received the drug had higher death rates than those who did not receive it.

On Thursday, Trump suggested that disinfectant could be injected into people in order to destroy the virus in their bodies. There is no evidence to support Trump's claim, and injecting or ingesting disinfectants can cause serious health problems. The maker of the popular disinfectant Lysol released a statement reminding people that "under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)."

Trump also repeatedly blamed governors for states' lack of medical supplies needed to deal with the crisis even as his own administration undermined their ability to prepare.

"Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work," Trump said on March 19. "The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we're not a shipping clerk."

Yet when Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, tried to purchase 500 ventilators in early April, the order was canceled because the Federal Emergency Management Agency stepped in and bought them instead.

Trump was also criticized for delaying the disbursement of millions of economic stimulus checks so his name could be printed on them. The delay came as more than 25 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last few weeks as a result of the pandemic.

As of Monday morning, there are more than 965,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, and at least 49,465 people have died.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.