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Rush Limbaugh

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RUSH: We are happy to have with us today… You don’t know. The media has been trying to find you today. Vice President Mike Pence is here with us today.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckling)

RUSH: They have been out of their minds because they haven’t been able to find you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckling)

RUSH: They say you’re not taking this seriously enough because they think you were at a fundraiser or some such thing.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckling)

RUSH: We are very honored to have you here, sir. It’s a thrill. You were in town and graciously gave us a half hour to come by here and try to straighten the American people out on the situation with coronavirus and anything else that you think the American people should know. First, welcome. You look great.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckling)

RUSH: It’s great to have you here. It really is.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rush. It is great to be here. Great to see you. Congratulations again on the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

RUSH: Oh, what a day.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was a special night. Well deserved.

RUSH: (chuckling) What a day and night that was. My wife, Kathryn, and I, we will never forget what you all did for us that day and that night.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well…

RUSH: What should the American people know today about the status of the coronavirus in America and how it is being dealt with, and — as best you can tell — what the future is?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: You bet. Well, look, President Trump has no higher priority than the health and safety of the American people. That’s why in the month of January, when we first learned of the coronavirus outbreak, the president took two steps that were unprecedented. No president in American history had ever done it. He suspended all travel to the United States from China by noncitizens of the United States.

Then he instituted a quarantine policy for American citizens that were coming home, that we would make sure that they were taken care of, but also receive treatment and the proper screening to determine that they were not in any jeopardy for their health, for the health of their family or their communities. We also instituted screening at about five different major airports around the country.

RUSH: This is in January.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: In January — and, again, the first two steps had never been done by any president. I remember I was in the Oval Office at the time that the White House task force on the coronavirus came in, and they said, “Mr. President, we have a very low risk in this country of an outbreak.” That’s what they told him at the time. The risk remains low to this day. But they said, “We’re recommending you take this step even though it’s never been done before.” The president said without hesitating, “Do it,” and all of our health experts… I attended my first White House corona task force meeting yesterday.

We convened at HHS. I’ve been on the phone the whole way here to Florida with all of our team talking, and talking with governors around the country and members of Congress. Every single one of our health experts have said that, if the president had not taken that action in January, we would be in a very different place than we are today. As of today, we have 15 people in the United States who contracted the coronavirus here. All of them have received treatment. All of them are doing well. There’s another 46 Americans that we brought back from China, from overseas. Again, all of them have received treatment, all of them are doing well.

RUSH: Some of them were on the cruise ship in Yokohama?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, there were people from the cruise ship, and a lot of our diplomatic core in China. It’s 61 people today in the United States of America and, again, it should be an encouragement to people that all those people have been treated. We have one still in the hospital, but all those people are doing well. The president has directed me to oversee this process to ensure that the full resources of the federal government are brought to bear.

So I was on the phone this morning with Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, Senator John Thune. We’re working with Congress to put together supplemental funding. Not to just make sure our agencies — HHS, CDC, Homeland Security — have the resources they need, Rush, but we’re going to make sure that states and local health officials have the resources to be prepared. And I’m in Florida today. I will be meeting with the Florida governor to talk about Florida’s preparedness.

RUSH: Now, it’s got to be a tough job. Look at California. California has the chief doctor of UC Davis Med Center in Sacramento, and they are out hyping that they’ve got the first case of this disease that didn’t contract it overseas, just got it in a community basis, and they can’t figure out —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.

RUSH: Now they are talking about there may be 8,400 people with it, carrying it, not knowing about it. Have you talked to Governor Newsom? —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.

RUSH: How do you coordinate? You have a lot of people scared. You have a lot of people trying to protect themselves politically by trying to get out in front of it as well. It’s got to be a massive thing to try to coordinate this to keep the public properly informed and not panicking. But when they hear things like 8,400 cases maybe, or a case that nobody can explain in California —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.

RUSH: — that gets them worried.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right. I spoke to Governor Newsom yesterday. Very good conversation. You know, as the president said at that press conference, Rush: We’re all in this together. The president said to me, “This is an all-hands-on-deck effort,” and I talked to Governor Newsom, because, frankly, California has been a great partner with HHS and CDC. They have worked very closely with us already, as we’ve repatriated Americans. We’re working very, very closely on the patient that was identified. And I think, obviously, there’s concern about this.

But I want to assure the American people that we’re going to make sure that, for our part, we set politics aside on this, and we work the problem. I, frankly, have been very encouraged, not only in my conversation with Governor Newsom, with the Democrat leadership of the House and Senate, with Governor Cuomo of New York. We are all going to come together as Americans and deal with this issue and put the health and safety of the American people first.

Washington is always going to have a political reflexive response to things. But we’re going to tune that out. We’re going to work the problem. We’re going to make sure that we have the resources necessary. But I want your listeners to know, as we sit here today, the threat of the coronavirus spreading in the United States of America remains low. With that being said, the president said — out of an abundance of caution — we’re going to continue to take very, very strong measures and to put the health and safety of the American people first.

RUSH: Now, I’m asking these next series of questions. I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. I’m for you guys. I want you to succeed because this needs success! I mean, this problem needs to be dealt with successfully, hopefully as apolitically as possible. The virus doesn’t know whether it’s infecting a Republican or a Democrat, a woman, a man, or anything. And until we get a better handle on it, we want competent people working on this.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.

RUSH: I saw the press conference with the president. I thought this was very, very important for people that don’t know him. He was being asked about the “inevitability” of this, and he said, “I don’t believe the worst is inevitable.” President Trump is a problem solver. He has been all of his life in business.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.

RUSH: You have, too, as governor of Indiana. The portrayal of you all as incompetent and in over your heads is also political, and I want to ask you how you deal with that, how you’re reacting to it, because there is public relations to this as well as the substance of what you’re dealing with. You’re being hit because you supposedly botched something in Indiana that you didn’t botch.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckling) No.

RUSH: So, how do you respond to people who are making criticisms like this? Because, remember: Everybody that I know wants you to succeed with this because we’re talking about the health of the American people and ultimately the world.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to stay focused on the American people and on their health and safety. The president made it very clear in that press conference — he’s made it very clear to our team — that we’re going to bring all the resources of the American people together around this. But he told me… He told me to call Speaker Nancy Pelosi and call Senator Chuck Schumer, and I did that, and we had very productive conversations. We’re already beginning to work on what they call a supplemental bill, and the president has made it clear that while we submitted an initial proposal, we’re very open to working with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to make sure we have all the support that we need.

RUSH: What will the money be used for?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well —

RUSH: It’s a tendency of Washington to throw money at things —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.

RUSH: — and say, “Solution at hand.” But how is it going to be allocated?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The most important thing your listeners ought to know is that, because of the action the president took last month, the threat remains low, but we’re ready for whatever may come. And part of the resource issue in working with the Congress right now is to make sure that our agencies have the funding to be able to address anything that may come.

We’re also looking at issues about medical supplies and what the president may be able to — may decide to exercise authority to make sure that we have additional supplies in the event of a broader outbreak. During my years in the state of Indiana, we actually had two instances of infectious diseases breaking out when I was governor. Number one is Indiana was where the very first MERS case emerged in the country. Fortunately, there were only two.

RUSH: MERS is a devastating infection.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. We had SARS. We had MERS, which is much more lethal than the coronavirus we’re talking about today. I remember when I learned as governor that we had the first MERS case, we went straight to work. We deployed our local health officials. We deployed our health department. We brought in the CDC. We took every effort, working with local law enforcement, to find out who that person had been in contact with. I’m glad to report that person was treated, recovered, and there was no further infection in the community.

A year later, we learned in a very small town that there was an outbreak of the HIV/AIDS virus and it was all being — it was all being transmitted through people sharing needles, intravenous drug use. Well, again, we went straight to work. We deployed health resources in the region, law enforcement. We sought to deal with it from a law enforcement standpoint, but we engaged the CDC, and they came in and said to us that, in this one instance, I ought to declare a state health emergency. And for a short period of time allow for making a needle exchange available so people would no longer be sharing needles to transmit.

I will tell you, needle exchange was illegal in the state of Indiana at the time. I don’t support needle exchange as a way of dealing with drug abuse, but, as governor, I made the hard call. I said, “Look, we have a health emergency in the state of Indiana,” and so I signed an executive order. We dealt with the issue. We ended the spread of the disease. Everyone received treatment, and the community has completely recovered and I’m proud of it.

The state of Indiana went on to change the law following what I had done, but, in both of those instances, what I learned, Rush, was the value of partnerships when you’re dealing with a health issue. I think it might be the main reason why President Trump asked me to do this. I think by putting me over the administration’s response to the coronavirus, the president wanted to signal the priority that he’s placed on this.

But he talked to me about my practical experience as a governor, because a lot of people are aware the CDC is involved, HHS is involved, Homeland Security is involved, and we’ve managed the quarantines. But, honestly, what I learned as governor, it’s your state health department, it’s your local health care providers that are at the tip of the spear in the spread of infectious disease. And so, as we work with Congress on making resources available, we’re going to make just as sure that not just that federal agencies have the resources, but, as I told several governors today, we are going to make sure that our state and local health care providers have the resources and the support that they are going to need to deal with whatever may come. But we’re ready today, and we’re going to make sure that we’re ready going forward.

RUSH: We are with Vice President Mike Pence for the half hour. We’ll take a brief, obscene profit break and be back and resume shortly. Don’t go anywhere.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: And welcome back. Rush Limbaugh, the EIB Network, from the EIB Southern Command. And we are happily with the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, who is running the task force for President Trump on the coronavirus. Two things about this very quickly —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thanks, Rush.

RUSH: Pardon me?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

RUSH: Oh, you’re welcome. The whistleblower. There is a whistleblower asserting that the administration people, HHS people, were not properly protected when some of the infected people arrived.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.

RUSH: You guys have been really plagued by some whistleblowers. What’s the status of this?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I spoke to the secretary of HHS this morning. We’re initiating a full-scale investigation into the allegation that our personnel were not provided sufficient protective gear. Look, our first priority is to take care of Americans that may have been impacted by the coronavirus, but right after that is taking care of our health care providers.

We’ll get to the bottom of it. I was assured of that today by Secretary Azar and also there will be — I got his commitment. I don’t want any retaliation against anybody. We need all the facts. What we’re going to do in this process — and I’m 36 hours into it. I have to tell you, just as President Trump said, that I think our team, beginning with the president’s decisions last month, I think our team has done a very strong job leaning into this effort on the coronavirus.

But we’re going to follow the facts. We’re going to follow the science. We’re going to tune out the politics and keep reaching out to people across the spectrum. I have to tell you, my conversations with many of the officials that I mentioned to you in the Democratic party, I get that sense. I think this is a real moment where we have an opportunity to really come together and work this issue on behalf of the American people. And that’s going to continue to be our focus.

RUSH: I got up today doing show prep and I see this headline leading to a story that you’ve got a gag order, that the president has put a gag order on, say, Tony Fauci and Dr. Schuchat and all the people that were there with you at the press conference, that nobody is allowed to talk about this unless it’s cleared through him or you. That just doesn’t sound like — I know you — is it true? You’ve got a gag order on these people?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, it’s not. And I was told Dr. Fauci testified at a briefing in Congress today that there was no gag order, and there is not. What we want to make sure is happening is that with so many different agencies involved that we’re providing that information in a consistent and systematic way. We’re going to give the American people the facts. We’re going to follow what the scientific community is recommending on this. And we’re going to let the health care experts lead.

I’m bringing back from Africa an extraordinary expert in infectious diseases. She has run our AIDS Africa program over there. She will be my right arm at the White House for this coronavirus response. She’s highly respected on both sides of the aisle, but we’re going to make sure the American people have all the facts on this.

I will tell you, Rush, from what I’ve seen in the first 36 hours — and I’m going to be meeting today with Governor DeSantis and his health officials before I leave Florida. I’m going to be talking to more governors and more members of Congress on the way back. I really do believe that we would not be where we are but for the decisive action that President Trump took in January and because of the team that he assembled in the White House coronavirus task force. Now, that has us where we are today —

RUSH: And the risk remains low.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The risk remains low.

RUSH: What does that mean, infectious risk spread to people or the seriousness of the disease itself?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The seriousness of the disease. You know the numbers. It’s depending on who you talk to, it’s a 1% to 2% mortality rate. But the risk of the disease spreading in the United States remains low, but I want your listeners to know we’re ready for anything. We’re working with everybody. We’re going to meet this challenge with President Trump’s leadership, with all the full resources of the federal government, and I know with the prayers of millions of Americans.

Our hearts go out to the families of those that have suffered infection. Our hearts go out to people around the world who have witnessed loss of life, particularly in China. And here in America we’re going to put the health and safety of America first. I’m grateful to be able to come on your program to speak to so many people across the country.

RUSH: It’s great to have you here.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: And let me assure you, I’m grateful for their prayers.

RUSH: Thank you. They work, Mr. Vice President. Trust me, they work. Thank you so much for being with us today and best of luck as you go forward in this.

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