Trump approach to COVID-19 'hasn't been cavalier at all': Campaign adviser

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller is interviewed on "This Week."
9:33 | 10/04/20

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Transcript for Trump approach to COVID-19 'hasn't been cavalier at all': Campaign adviser
correspondents. Let's bring in senior adviser Jason Miller. Thank you for joining us this morning. Let me start with the question about your personal health. Five of the nine people who participated in the president's debate prep, including Chris Christie who works for ABC, have tested positive for covid. Are you still negative? When was the last time you were tested? Yes, thank you for having me on this morning, George. I have tested negative. As has my entire family. We're very thankful for that. And that was on Friday when I took my last test. So I'm continuing to social distance and wear a mask and be very careful and wash my hands and keep distance from folks, use hand sanitizer. So very thankful that I tested negative, as did Steven Miller and mayor Giuliani. And for those who did test positive, namely president trump, we're hoping that he gets back on his feet in no time and seems to be doing well. You know, I did have the opportunity to speak with the president for about a half hour yesterday. Both myself and bill steppien, our campaign manager. The president sounded good. He said he was doing well. He was getting back on his feet. Cracking jokes and asking questions about the campaign and grilling us about when we'll have new TV ads to show him. He's feeling good. He said a couple of important things I want to share with the American public that are watching this morning. Number one, that we're going to defeat this virus. President trump personally is going to defeat it. As a nation, we're going to defeat it and get life back to normal. Get this vaccine. Also our campaign is going to defeat it. I think when president trump gets out of the white house, excuse me, out of the -- gets back to the white house and back on the campaign trail, it's going to be a slingshot taking us forward. He said something that was important, and that's to be careful. To make sure that folks are washing hands, using hand sanitizer, to make sure they're wearing a mask if you can't socially distance. These are important things and reminders that president trump told us. That's good to hear the president saying that now. I mean, there's been real questions about whether he's been taking it seriously enough up until his diagnosis. We have a new poll out with ipsos that says 72% say the president didn't take the risk of getting covid seriously enough and didn't take appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health. What do you say? I disagree. I look at early action with closing the country and stopping foreign travelers from China and Europe when it received criticism from the political left. Folks saying it was xenophobic, racist. Obviously shut down the country for two weeks and then for an additional month. Had to go and keep us safe. What that did was that flattened the curve. That allowed to start developing therapeutics. We started getting the vaccine developed. That we got the ventilators, 100,000 ventilators built. And George, I think there's a really important point here is that president trump had to take this head on. He had to get out there as the leader, not just of the country but of the free world, and take this head on. This is a general in the field-type moment that he couldn't just stay upstairs, hidden in the Lincoln bedroom or in the white house. He couldn't stay hidden in his basement, saying I'm going to shut down forever. People in this country, George, want to get life back to normal -- That's true. The president had to take it head on, but he didn't have to hold rallies where people did not social distance, did not wear masks. He didn't have to mock former vice president Joe Biden for wearing a mask and reporters who wore a mask. He didn't have to continue to go to event after event without wearing a mask. But I would again -- I'd push back on that because president trump is one of the most tested people in the entire country. There's a lot that we still don't know about this virus. So let me give folks an example of -- as someone who spends a lot of time with the president the protocol and things I go through. If I'm going to be spending time with the president or other team members, first of all we're tested. Beforehand. There's about a full hour space from the time that we're tested until we make sure we're in the clear. We keep distance from the president at all times. The closest I get to the president is about eight feet, maybe six feet. Usually pretty solid distance back. A lot of times more like ten feet. And we make sure that any -- anyone has their temperature checked. People are washing hands, they're using hand sanitizer. Even with all of these things in place, we've seen that where president trump did contract covid, but he's one of the most safe people that's out there. And obviously if he's in a place where he can't socially distance, we have seen him wearing a mask. We have seen him encouraging people, whether on Twitter or with email, whether from his own voice, saying be careful as you're out there. These are important things. Folks who come to our rallies, for example, their temperatures are all checked. They're given masks. They're urged to be careful, as well. We've done that in the past. We're going to continue doing that as we go forward. You know, but more broadly, we've all seen the rallies without the masks, the rose garden event without the masks, the president's refused to wear a mask at the debate. The president seemed proud of that at Tuesday's debate. Let's listen. I don't wear masks like him, every time you see him he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen. I'll have 25,000, 35,000 people show up at airports. We use airports -- Are you not worried about the -- A lot of people -- so far we have had no problem whatsoever. We've had no negative effect. We've had 35,000, 45,000 people at these rallies. Hasn't the cavalier approach to masks and social distancing at these rallies been a mistake? Will it change going forward? Again, I'll push back on that and say it hasn't been cavalier at all. We take it seriously. It's why we give everyone coming to rallies or events, we give them a mask. We check their temperature. You know, I would say that with regard to Joe Biden, I think too often he's used the mask as a prop. Mask is very important, but even if he's -- he could be 20, 30 feet away from the nearest person and still have the mask on. That's not going to change anything that's out there. Also we've seen with -- with Joe Biden, I mean, we can't all just stay in our basement for the rest of our lives. We have to get out there and live our lives and take this on, develop the vaccine, develop more therapeutics, and defeat it. Americans, George, want to get life back to normal. That is the driving thing in everyone's lives. They want to get life back to normal. You can't just stay hidden in the basement the entire time. Everyone wants to get life back to normal. There's no question about that. But has the president taken it too far? One example, on Thursday, the president went ahead with his fundraiser in bedminster even after the white house knew that hope hicks had tested positive. Why wasn't that eventually canceled? Well, again, I'd say that the news as we saw from the public reports, the news of when they saw about hope hicks, as soon as that happened then president trump was tested. He did not get his test back until later on Thursday evening. You know, it is notable that anyone who comes to an event such as the fundraiser, there's a bedminster, they are tested, they have their temperature taken -- Hold on, Jason. The point is not that the president's -- the test isn't the point. We know that Jared Kushner, Dan scavino were told to stand back. The president had been in close contact with hope hicks. Why would he go forward with the fundraiser after knowing he had been in close contact with someone who just tested positive? What I can't speak to since I'm not part of white house operations, I'm not part of the white house medical unit, is the exact -- how much time he was spending with hope and the proximity for these things. I can't speak to that. I got to let the white house do that. What I can speak to is that I think it was very smart that the white house medical team did take president trump to Walter reed as a precautionary measure. Obviously as we've seen from the reports that there are concerns with how he was doing. We should all be very happy the president is doing much better today. And he was doing much better yesterday. He's on the recovery right now. I think he'll be back in short order. He's anxious to get back on the campaign trail. That's what I can speak to, having spoken with the president at length yesterday, and also seeing the briefing from his doctors out in front of Walter reed. We all want him to get well as quickly as possible. Let's talk about the campaign. Even before this diagnosis, the president was behind. There's new polls from the "Wall Street journal" and NBC news out today showing that Joe Biden is leading 53-39, a 14-point lead. How can you come back from that kind of a deficit? Well, we did it in 2016 because, number one, a lot of times these polls are inaccurate. I remember an ABC news/"washington post" poll that came out a week or week and a half before the election in 2016 that said that we were down double digits. And now president trump is in the white house. So clearly these polls, these national polls sometimes are inaccurate, or they're not sampling the right people. They're not getting the right spreads. As we look at the battleground states, what you need to get to 270, we feel very good about our positioning. In particular I think our strength out west, both with Arizona and Nevada is looking very good, in Florida we continue to look good. Numbers are -- our lead is growing, as we see, in north Carolina and Georgia, from internal numbers. Pennsylvania's going to be tight, Michigan's going to be tight. The whole upper midwest is what this thing could come down to. And so we're launching this week while president trump is on the recovery operation Maga. Both with the vice president, the first family, dozens of our key supporters and our surrogates, we're going to be fanning out all over the country following vice president's debate on Wednesday. Also combined with a number of virtual events. We're going to have our first big kickoff virtual event Monday night. The president was excited to hear the operation Maga that we're going to get everyone around the country and really pick up the banner and campaign until he can get back out there himself. Jason Miller, thanks for your time this morning. Thank you, George.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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