Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said Saturday that Democrats are "trying to milk" the coronavirus outbreak for political advantage, adding that concern about the outbreak will disappear after the election.
Speaking with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, Eric Trump said Democrats "are trying to milk this for everything they can and it's sad."
He said the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, "loves" the pandemic because it allows him to avoid the campaign trail.
"Biden can't go on stage without making some horrible blunder. I mean even from his basement he's making awful gaffes every single day. So, his campaign is thrilled that he's not going out there," said Eric Trump.
And he said Biden and his Democratic allies were happy to use the virus as a reason to his father from conducting campaign rallies.
"They think they are taking away Donald Trump's greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time," Eric Trump said. "Joe Biden can't get 10 people in a room. My father is getting 50,000 in a room. And they want to do everything they can to stop it."
When asked about the comments by President Donald Trump's son, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Sunday, "I think hyperbolic rhetoric on any side is not appropriate."
"I just think we need to have balanced, accurate information out there. That's all I and our public health leaders are trying to do, is to present the fact that we're now in a position where we can be reopening," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Azar said President Trump "laid out very balanced criteria and approaches that he suggests states follow" as they reopen.
"These aren't partisan issues," Azar said of Americans' "health and economic welfare."
Eric Trump was so certain that concern about the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 90,000 Americans, was politically driven that predicted it would no longer be an issue after the election.
"You watch, they'll milk it every single day between now and Nov. 3. And guess what, after Nov. 3, coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen," he said.
The president was sharply criticized for a similar comment he made at a Feb. 28 rally in South Carolina where he referred to Democrats' criticism of his coronavirus response as "their new hoax." Many said the president was downplaying the threat posed by the outbreak, though Trump denied he was calling the virus itself a hoax.
The Biden campaign attacked Eric Trump's remarks in a statement.
"We’re in the middle of the biggest public health emergency in a century, with almost 90,000 Americans dead, 1.5 million infected, and 36 million workers newly jobless," said Kate Bedingfield, communications director for the campaign. "So for Eric Trump to claim that the coronavirus is a political hoax that will 'magically' disappear is absolutely stunning and unbelievably reckless."
Bedingfield said Trump "ignored the threat of the coronavirus for months and has mishandled the response at every step since – destroying the strong economy he inherited from the Obama-Biden administrations and leading to countless unnecessary death."
She said that because of the president's "dismal record" handling the pandemic,
"they're desperate to do whatever they can to throw up a smokescreen to try to conceal his historic mismanagement of this crisis."
Eric Trump also accused the news media of "stoking fear" and said outlets were "essentially a propaganda arm for the Democrats."
"They're doing a massive disservice," he said. "But they're doing it for one reason: they want to hurt Trump. They tried to do with the Russia thing, they tried to do it with the Ukraine scandal, they tried to do it with impeachment. Now, they're trying to do it with coronavirus."
He said that shutting down the economy was not about slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but hurting his father because Democrats and the news media do not believe Biden can defeat Trump. Several polls show Biden leading with voters.
"This is a very cognizant strategy that they're trying to employ," he said. "It's no different than the mail-in voting that they want to do all these places. It's no different than wanting illegal immigrants to vote in our country. It is a cognizant strategy. And it's sad. And, again, it's not going to be allowed to happen and we're going to win in November."
When asked if he believed Democratic governors ordered lockdowns in their states to hurt Trump, rather than protect their citizens, Azar said, "I find that it's better not to try to impugn individuals' motives."
"The president and the vice president and I have had superb working relationships with the governors across this country, from whether red state or blue state," he continued. "We have all been working in partnership to try to help the American people. And we're going to keep doing that."