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Donald Trump during a Virtual Town Hall inside of the Lincoln Memorial
Donald Trump during a Virtual Town Hall inside of the Lincoln Memorial
Image: DPA/PA Images

'Everybody makes our drugs except us': Trump hits out at Irish-based American pharmaceutical firms

The president also said that US citizens should start going back to beaches this summer.
May 4th 2020, 11:24 AM 99,794 211

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has made another pledge to bring Irish-based US pharmaceutical companies back to the country within two years.

Launching his re-election campaign with a live television event inside the iconic Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Trump also promised an early coronavirus vaccine and urged Americans to put the pandemic behind them.

Towards the end of a two-hour long Fox News “town hall” meeting, Trump was asked about bringing drug manufacturers back to the US during questioning about the development of a vaccine for Covid-19.

After rounding on China, he called previous presidents “foolish” and “stupid” for allowing US pharmaceutical companies to manufacture products abroad.

“It’s not only China. You take a look at Ireland, they make our drugs. Everybody makes our drugs except us,” he said.

“We’re bringing that whole supply chain back. Nobody has to tell me to do it, I’ve been talking about that for years.”

Trump claimed that 94% of the country’s medicines were made abroad, saying he hoped to bring pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the US within two years.

“It doesn’t go that quickly, and frankly you put me in a very bad negotiating position by asking me this question,” he told Fox’s two interviewers.

“We’re talking about this. Now I’m supposed to call up my guys? You put me in a very bad negotiating position. I’m not blaming you, that’s your job. But you’re taking my cards away.”

Saving his re-election

Trump is doing poorly in most polls ahead of the November presidential contest against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who remains in his Delaware home.

The president faces criticism for his bruising, divisive style during a time of national calamity. He is also accused by some of botching the early response to the Covid-19 virus.

And the previously booming US economy, which was seen as a golden ticket to his second term, is now in dire straits due to the nationwide lockdown.

With officials saying the viral spread has begun to ease, Trump is itching to return to the campaign trail.

However is being criticised for trying to declare premature victory over the health crisis, even as the illness continues to kill thousands of Americans every week.

During the interview, Trump said that US citizens should start going back to beaches this summer and recommended that schools need to reopen in September.

“We can’t stay closed as a country, we’re not going to have a country left,” he said on the show, where two moderators, as well as ordinary citizens via video, put questions to him in front of the monument.

“We’re going to have an incredible following year… We are very confident that we’re going to have a vaccine… by the end of the year,” Trump added.

However, he admitted he was getting ahead of his own advisors with the prediction. “I’ll say what I think,” he said.

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Minimised death toll

Having repeatedly minimised the death toll, claiming it will end at around 60,000, Trump conceded that now it was 80,000 to 90,000 and “going up”.

His emphasis, however, was not on the dead, but on resurrecting his image as a can-do leader who can end the mounting unemployment caused by the lockdown.

Trump, who calls himself a “wartime president”, denied that the election will turn into a referendum on his handling of the crisis.

But he added: “I hope it does because we’ve done a great job”.

In the next few days, Trump will break months of self-quarantine with long-distance trips to the key electoral states of Arizona and Ohio.

It’s a move that will emphasise his massive visibility advantage over Biden and, the White House hopes, rewrite the public relations script after gaffes including the president’s suggestion that coronavirus patients should ingest disinfectant.

Trump’s self-declared greatness is questioned by many Americans. FiveThirtyEight’s latest tracking poll showing only 43.4 percent approving his performance and 50.7 percent disapproving.

With reporting from - © AFP 2020's coronavirus newsletter cuts through the misinformation and noise with the clear facts you need to make informed choices. Sign up here

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