Pence pledges 'full support' to Washington state in coronavirus fight

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. —  Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Washington state Thursday amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, pledging the full support of the Trump administration to state officials as the death toll continues to mount.

The state has been the hardest hit by the outbreak in the U.S., with at least 70 confirmed infections and 11 dead. Most of those who died were residents of Life Care Center, a nursing home in Kirkland.

“As the state of Washington, and the Seattle area in particular, deals with the coronavirus, we’re going to continue to make sure that you have the full support of every agency in the federal government,” Pence said after touring the state’s emergency response center. “We know you’re the front line.”

Pence attended a round-table meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee, members of Washington’s congressional delegation and local officials to discuss coordinating response to the outbreak.

The Republican vice president and Democratic governor sought to smooth over their political differences.

Pence heaped praise on Inslee, who briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination last year. “We have been working with your governor and with this team in a seamless way,” the vice president said.

Inslee, in turn, sidestepped a reporter’s question about a tweet late last month in which he said he told Pence during a telephone call that joint efforts to combat the coronavirus “would be more successful if the Trump administration stuck to the science and told the truth.”

President Donald Trump has sought to downplay the virus outbreak in the U.S.

Asked how he’d now assess Trump’s response one week after he put Pence in charge of the response, Inslee sidestepped the question with Pence standing nearby.

“I think we have a very good partnership with thousands of people in the federal government,” Inslee said. “We’re not going to allow some disagreements with any one individual in that government to dissuade us.”