It had to happen. Via The Huffington Post: Trump Silent On Zika Virus At 2 Florida Campaign Events. Excerpt:
Trump punted when asked how he would fight the spread of Zika in an interview with a local television station on Wednesday, deferring to the Florida governor, who has endorsed him for president.
“Well, first of all you have a great governor, who’s doing a fantastic job, Rick Scott, on the Zika,” Trump said, referring to prevention efforts underway in Miami. “And it’s a problem, it’s a big problem. But I watch and I see and I see what they’re doing with the spraying and everything else. And I think he’s doing a fantastic job. And he’s letting everyone know exactly what the problem is and how to get rid of it. He’s going to have it under control. He probably already does.”
Pressed how he thinks the federal government ― which is responsible for coordinating research to fight the virus, and which he is campaigning to lead ― ought to respond, Trump again deferred to Scott.
“I would say that it’s up to Rick Scott. It depends on what he’s looking to do, because he really seems to have it under control in Florida,” Trump said. Scott said last week the government “needs to do their part.”
But at least at his rallies, Trump appeared unconcerned with the spread of the virus, which when contracted by pregnant women can cause birth defects. His silence is especially notable since he owns property in Florida and employs hundreds of people at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach ― employees who would be directly impacted by the virus should the outbreak spread.
The GOP nominee also ignored Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), his former primary opponent, who urgently sounded the alarm over the virus in the Senate recently and called on Trump to address the virus earlier Wednesday.
“Hopefully that will change today, and the campaign will communicate and say something,” Rubio told reporters ahead of Trump’s campaign event in Daytona Wednesday afternoon.
Once a fierce critic of the brash businessman, Rubio has since given Trump a full-throated endorsement. He was rewarded on Wednesday, after Trump endorsed the senator on stage ahead of his crowded GOP primary.
Trump’s comments on Zika on Wednesday appear to be his first public statements about the virus. A spokeswoman did not respond to repeated requests for information on his plan to fight the virus. (His opponent, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, released a plan to address the virus earlier this year.)
The closest the GOP nominee came to addressing Zika in public previously was during a brief aside last month after a mosquito interrupted his stump speech in Ohio.
“There was a mosquito. I don’t want mosquitoes around me!” Trump exclaimed. “I don’t like mosquitoes! I don’t like those mosquitoes. I never did!”
Ever on message, Trump then used the opportunity to take a swipe at Clinton.
“OK, speaking of mosquitoes — hello, Hillary. How are you doing?” he joked.
The GOP’s lack of attention to Zika is especially striking when compared to the panicked alarm it sounded over the threat of the deadly Ebola virus in 2014. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was an early endorser of Trump, enforced quarantines at the time. GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced legislation that would have imposed travel bans on those traveling from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa. Fear of the virus even affected the congressional midterms, as candidates accused each other of not doing enough to address the spread of the virus.