Stefanik, Cobb raise money during rally
Cobb demands Stefanik condemn Trump’s ‘slow the testing’ comment
Both candidates running for New York’s 21st Congressional District seat, Republican incumbent Elise Stefanik and Democratic challenger Tedra Cobb, used President Donald Trump’s Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma — which Stefanik attended — as a chance to raise thousands of dollars each toward their campaigns.
Stefanik, who also received a mispronounced shout-out of her name from the president at the rally, said on Twitter that her campaign received more than $150,000 in donations in a 48-hour “Trump Rally Money Bomb” event in which she said donations were quadrupled and split with the Trump campaign.
Cobb wrote on Twitter that her campaign passed its goal of raising $25,000 over the course of the rally, adding that they were still taking donations.
Neither campaign responded to requests for exact dollar amounts raised over the weekend.
One of Trump’s most controversial statements from the rally — saying he wants coronavirus testing slowed down because the results make him look bad — led to Cobb demanding Stefanik condemn his statement on Monday. Stefanik has not responded to a request for comment on whether she agrees with what Trump said.
Trump said “testing is a double-edged sword,” pointing out that the more tests that are done, the more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in the U.S., which is bad for him.
“So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please,'” Trump said.
The U.S. has conducted 25 million tests, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with around 10% of those coming back positive. Around 122,000 Americans have died of complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“This statement will put thousands of lives in jeopardy and have grave consequences for New Yorkers,” Cobb wrote in a press release. “After spending her week calling on lawmakers to heed the advice of medical professionals, Congresswoman Stefanik flew to Tulsa to participate in this political sideshow — and now she remains silent while the White House claims this was a ‘joke.’ 120,000 Americans are dead; this is no laughing matter.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, speaking with reporters Monday, said Trump said this in “jest,” and when asked why he was joking about the pandemic, McEnany said Trump was not joking about the virus but joking about the media’s coverage of the virus.
However, asked about his statements by Scripps reporter Joe St. George on Monday morning, Trump said, “I think if it (testing) did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves. If you want to know the truth, we’ve done too good a job.”
He said the tests show people who have the virus but are asymptomatic. These people can still spread the virus, even though they may not be in danger of its effects or may not have gotten sick yet. This particular virus can make a person contagious for many days before they get sick, if they get sick at all.
Trump’s rally — his first in 110 days — saw many attendees wearing the masks provided to them, but since they were not mandated, there were plenty of unmasked faces crowded around the stage. Stefanik, who sat with other representatives, wore a mask sometimes.
The C-SPAN footage of the event shows her unmasked and laughing as Trump complained over the number of names the coronavirus has been referred to.
“That name gets further and further away from China, as opposed to calling it the Chinese virus,” he said.
He later called COVID-19 the “Kung Flu.”
On Saturday, six Trump staffers working on the rally tested positive for the virus and were not in attendance. Two Trump staffers who attended the rally tested positive Monday. The campaign said they wore masks throughout the entire event. Monday’s diagnoses brings to total of infected Trump staffers to eight.
Attendees had to sign a waiver to attend the event, acknowledging the risks of exposure to the coronavirus in a packed indoor event space. The waiver means anyone who may contract the virus from that event cannot sue the event space or the Trump campaign.
Stefanik, who was initially thought to be a speaker at the rally, did not speak, but received a shout-out and a wave from Trump, who was thanking the Congress members who defended him during his impeachment trial earlier this year.
“These are warriors, folks. These are great warriors,” Trump said. “During the fake impeachment trial, I’ll tell you what. There was nobody that could have done the job they’ve done. That includes the Senate and the House. These people are incredible.”
He mispronounced Stefanik’s name as “Elise ste-FAN-ak.” The correct pronounciation is “ste-FAHN-ik.” While at Fort Drum in 2018, Trump came closer, pronouncing Stefanik with a long “i.”
Hosts on Fox News, a television favorite of Trump’s, have consistently mispronounced the North Country Congresswoman’s name as “Elaine” or “Suponic.”
“The president knows her as Elise,” Stefanik campaign spokeswoman Madison Anderson told the Times Union of Albany.