By Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review
Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t being “appreciative,” President Donald Trump said Friday, adding he’s told Vice President Mike Pence not to call Washington’s chief executive.
Pence, who is the designated head of the federal fight against COVID-19, apparently hasn’t stopped calling.
During a news conference Friday, Trump criticized some governors for their reaction to the federal response to the outbreak.
“I think they should be appreciative. Because when they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the army corps, not appreciative to FEMA,” Trump said. “Mike Pence, I don’t think he sleeps anymore. These are people that should be appreciated. He calls all the governors. I tell him, I’m a different type of person. I say Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him.”
Inslee later responded on Twitter: “I’m not going to let personal attacks from the president distract me from what matters: beating this virus and keeping Washingtonians healthy.”
I’m not going to let personal attacks from the president distract me from what matters: beating this virus and keeping Washingtonians healthy.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) March 28, 2020
The Washington governor has been a critic of Trump on a number of issues, including questioning in-person the president’s stand on arming teachers to thwart school shootings during a 2018 meeting with governors in the White House. While running unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination, Inslee frequently threw verbal jabs at Trump.
When Pence was named to lead the federal response in the early days of the outbreak, Inslee wrote on Twitter that he had received a call from the vice president thanking the state for its efforts to fight coronavirus. “I told him our work would be more successful if the Trump administration stuck to the science and told the truth,” Inslee wrote.
But a week later, when Pence made a trip to the state to meet with Inslee and other government leaders at the state’s emergency operations center at Camp Murray, there was no sign of friction between the two. Asked during a press conference about his tweet, Inslee said they were getting good science and expected a good partnership; Pence complimented Inslee for leading the state’s response.
In recent weeks, Inslee has said he was getting good cooperation from Pence and help from the military and FEMA. On Thursday, he declined to criticize Trump when saying the White House would have stronger bargaining power than the states if it called companies to get them to manufacture needed supplies and equipment.
The transcript of a phone conference with governors and Trump earlier that day, however, shows Inslee criticized the president’s contention the federal government should be a backup to the states on getting supplies and equipment. The nation doesn’t need a backup quarterback, Inslee said, it needs a Tom Brady.
President Trump: "That governor is a snake, Inslee." pic.twitter.com/BeZWcr7qUa
— The Hill (@thehill) March 8, 2020