Nikki Haley says to blame governors, not Trump — but most Americans disagree


The former ambassador to the United Nations praised Trump for 'marshaling the federal response' to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nikki Haley, Donald Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations and the former governor of South Carolina, urged Americans in a New York Times op-ed on Wednesday not to blame Trump but their governors for any failures in the nation's COVID-19 response.

But polling shows Americans believe their state governments were more prepared than Trump to handle the outbreak.

In a piece titled "Focus on your governor, not Trump," Haley argued that "governors who complain about the Trump administration are, in some cases, attempting to distract from their own failures to plan and execute."


"Once a crisis hits, state responsibility is primary," Haley wrote. "The federal government can provide crucial resources, but the burden is on the governor and her team to distribute them. No two states are alike, and blanket approaches won't work."

While acknowledging that "governors from both parties have exemplified strong leadership," Haley claimed that "others are revealing their shortcomings." She credited Trump for "marshaling the federal response on a massive scale."

Polling shows that Americans are much happier with their governors than they are with the Trump administration's botched handling of the pandemic.

A Microsoft News and Microsoft Research poll of Americans released last week found that governors have an average approval rating of 72% — 27 points higher than Trump's average 45% approval rating.

Last month, a Monmouth University poll of U.S. adults found that, by a 72% to 18% spread, Americans said their governor had done a good job with the pandemic. Just 50% of Americans believed the same of Trump.

Last week, an ABC News-Ipsos poll similarly found that 52% of Americans now disapprove of Trump's handling of the crisis, and a Global Strategy Group Navigator poll found about 60% of Americans are concerned about Trump's failure to act early and would apply the term "unprepared" to him with regard to the pandemic.

Daily Kos Elections has been tracking state-level polls in recent days, comparing governors' approval ratings to Trump's. As of Wednesday, it found governors' margin of approval, on average, to be 45 points higher than Trump's.

Though Trump has rated his handling of the coronavirus a 10 out of 10, experts have criticized him for wasting two months downplaying and ignoring the severity of the virus instead of focusing on the coming pandemic.

Trump has repeatedly made false claims about the virus, his handling of it, and its scale. For weeks, he told Americans that the situation was "very well under control in our country" and promised on Feb. 26 that the number of cases would soon be "down close to zero."

As of Tuesday, the CDC has reported more than 374,000 total confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in the United States and more than 12,000 deaths.

According to the COVID Tracking Project established by the Atlantic, which collects the most recent testing data from each state, just over 2 million tests have been done in a country of about 330 million people.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.