Trump Downplays Threat From Virus to Economy, Re-Election

President Donald Trump downplayed the risk to the U.S. economy — and his re-election — posed by the coronavirus.

“Everybody has to be calm,” Trump said Thursday at a Fox News town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “It’s going to all work out.”

Asked about the threat to the economy and his campaign, Trump said the virus “certainly might have an impact” but said his administration is prepared for whatever happens. “We hope it doesn’t last too long,” said Trump, who praised his administration’s response to the global outbreak.

Stock indicies have swung widely because of concern over the impact of the virus on manufacturing and travel. The S&P 500 fell more than 3% on Thursday, erasing the majority of Wednesday’s steep gains. The benchmark has had the most volatile week since S&P Global Ratings cut the U.S. debt rating in 2011.

The virus led the Federal Reserve Tuesday to slash interest rates by half a percentage point in the first such emergency move since the 2008 financial crisis.

Trump has called for additional measures from the central bank, tweeting that the Fed “must further ease and, most importantly, come into line with other countries/competitors. We are not playing on a level field. Not fair to USA.”

Trump has also blamed the economy on investor concerns over the success of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, arguing the recent market decline can be traced to “socialist” policies he has advocated.

During a meeting Wednesday to discuss the coronavirus response with airline executives, Trump said a “big part” of the recent downturn was fear of the disease but “also the fact that they didn’t like seeing what they’re seeing” in the Democratic race.

Trump also said that he expected fears over international travel would boost the domestic tourism industry.

The Senate on Thursday passed a $7.8 billion emergency coronavirus spending bill, sending it to Trump for his signature. The House passed the measure a day earlier. The president has called the spending plan “great news.”

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