President Donald Trump during a briefing Wednesday on a potential health crisis blamed a sudden stock market sell-off slide on a comments by Democratic candidates at a debate rather than the risk of a looming coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, who encouraged Americans to buy stocks even after a 1,000 point drop in the Dow during his trip to India earlier this week, was asked how the disease might affect markets and the economy, with millions quarantined in China and the illness spreading to Italy and the Middle East.
Trump pointed a finger at his Democratic presidential opponents – not the illness that caused him to summon top officials to the White House for his first briefing with reporters from the White House briefing room.
President Donald Trump blamed a sudden market slide on 'Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves' – not on fears of a coronavirus pandemic
'I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves and they say if we have a president like this – and there's always a possibility – it's an election, who knows what happens,' Trump said.
Trump added that he thought 'we're going to win' and 'by a lot.'
He spoke hours after seven Democrats squared off for a debate in Charleston, with democratic socialist Bernie Sanders drawing fire due to his strong performance and polling.
'But when they look at the statements made by the people standing behind those podiums, I think that has a huge effect, yeah,' Trump said.
He doubled down when asked if he didn't think the drop – a 7 per cent sell-off – had to do with coronavirus.
Trump attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said 'quite a bit' of the market sell-off came from people watching his Democratic rivals debating. The first Democratic debate was back in June, and the market started tanking the day before the Charleston debate
''I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves,' said Trump
People wear face masks as a precaution to the outbreak of Coronavirus in Italy, during the weekly General Audience at St. Peter's Square. The General Audience is held every Wednesday, in Saint Peter's Square, which can accommodate around 80,000 people
People are seen leaving the arrivals terminal at Sydney International airport on January 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has now killed 132 people - mostly in China - and as of Wednesday morning had 6,000 confirmed cases while thousands more people remain under observation
Trader Frank Masiello works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 at the start of a major sell-off
The Dow dropped 7 per cent over two days amid concerns about the outbreak
'I think it did. But I think you can add quite a bit of sell-off to what they're seeing because they're seeing the potential … I think we're going to win I feel very confident of it,' he said – acknowledging that his theory rests in part on Wall Street pricing the possibility he would lose to a Democrat.
'I do believe in terms of CNBC and in terms of Fox Business, I do believe that that's a factor, yeah and I think after I win the election I think the stock market's going to boom like it's never boomed before,' Trump said. 'The stock market the day after went up like a rocket ship,' he said.
Trump's unorthodox call came during an urgent health briefing where he took numerous partisan shots at Democrats – while also saying he would accept billions more in coronavirus response funds Democrats are demanding.
'They can do whatever they want,' he said. 'We’ll be satisfied whatever it is.'
He brought up his signature and controversial border wall, for which he has reprogrammed money from defense and other issues. “It wasn't very easy for the wall, but we got that one done,' Trump said.
When asked about criticism made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he slapped back by calling the California Democrat 'incompetent' and calling Sen. Charles Schumer 'cryin' Chuck.'
Trump also suggested under Pelosi, Democrats would lose the House again - and he said impeachment 'lifted my poll numbers up by 10 points.'
'She's trying to create a panic,' Trump said. 'And there's no reason to create a panic because we have done so good.'
Trump also attacked Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, who demanded three times the coronavirus response funds Trump asked for.
'Instead of making a statement like that she should be saying we have to work together because we have a big problem, potentially, and maybe it's going to be a very little problem,' Trump said. 'I hope it's going to be a very little problem but we have to work together. Instead [Pelosi] wants to do the same thing with cryin' Chuck Schumer,' he said, appending his usual Schumer insult.
'He goes out and he says "the president only asked for $2.5 billion dollars. He should have $8.5 billion." This is the first time I've ever been told that we should take more ... and we should be working together. He shouldn't be making statements like that,' Trump said.
'We have to all work together. You can’t say bad things,' Trump said.
During the presser, Bernie Sanders, currently the Democratic frontrunner, sent out a statement blasting Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who was present at the White House briefing, for not guaranteeing during Congressional testimony that a coronavirus vaccine would be affordable to all.
'Under the Trump doctrine, if you are wealthy you can buy a vaccine and not succumb to the sickness. If you are poor or working class, you may have to get sick or even die,' Sanders said. 'That is an outrage. That is unacceptable. We need a vaccine that is available to all, not just those who can afford it.'