Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer said Thursday that the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak will be a political disaster, similar to Hurricane Katrina's political damage to former President George W. Bush.
Steyer described the president as "incompetent" during an appearance on Wednesday's edition of "The Dean Obeidallah Show" on SiriusXM, echoing Trump's use of the same word to describe House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during a news conference in the White House Briefing Room Wednesday evening.
During that briefing, the president announced that Vice President Mike Pence was in charge of coordinating the government's response to the outbreak.
"Okay, let's be clear," Steyer told Obeidallah. "You and I both know that I started 'Need to Impeach' because this is the most corrupt president in American history. But, that's not the point here. He's incompetent -- he's absolutely incompetent. He stripped the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of its money and of its capability. He's months late on this."
"This is a huge deal and he's turning it over to Mike Pence?" he asked. "I can't be more scared."
The coronavirus has infected more than 82,500 worldwide and been blamed for more than 2,800 deaths. The CDC has confirmed 15 cases in the United States, and another 45 cases among people who have been repatriated to the United States.
The latest U.S. case, recorded in northern California, is potentially the first case of community spread.
"This is a much bigger deal than I think people in the United States understand in terms of how many people are going to be infected and how much economic impact this is going to have," Steyer remarked. "Trump is incompetent. He is doing a terrible job on this."
But, Steyer went on, a marked difference between Obama and Trump is that Obama "believed in analysis and science."
"He was on top of it," said Steyer. "He really led the world on controlling the Ebola epidemic ... so that in the United States it didn't become much of anything at all."
"That's not what is happening here," he continued further. "Mr. Trump is way late. He has no capability; he is incompetent."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.