Democratic Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, a candidate for U.S. Senate, criticized the news media at a February campaign event, accusing them of using images to “instill fear” over the coronavirus.
Gideon could be heard downplaying the threat in audio obtained by the Daily Caller from a February 29 campaign event in Presque Isle, Maine. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Jan. 21: Fauci Says Coronavirus ‘Not A Major Threat’ To U.S.)
“We actually are in the process of getting all the information from the executive branch about how we effectively deal with coronavirus, and I know there is a lot of scary information that is presented,” Gideon said at the time. “For example, today I was just scrolling through the news and I saw that every article that talked about what is happening on the west coast had pictures of people with masks on them, to instill fear.”
Gideon has since changed her tune on the virus, and has been critical of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
“The Trump Administration is leaving states like Maine to fend for themselves, bidding against each other for scarce supplies and increasing the risk that a smaller state like Maine loses out when competing against states like New York and California,” she wrote in an op-ed published earlier this month by the Portland Press Herald.
Gideon also said the federal government should have “acted earlier and more efficiently” in a tweet last week.
This situation could have been avoided if the federal government had acted earlier and more efficiently. This administration needs to step up and provide the resources we need to get through this crisis. https://t.co/Ps78icQ7rX
— Sara Gideon (@SaraGideon) April 9, 2020
Gideon is challenging Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican looking to secure her fifth term in the Senate. The race is one of the most anticipated in the country, and is expected to be critical in determining control of the upper chamber. A poll published last month by Public Policy Polling (PPP) found Gideon leading Collins by 4%.
Gideon’s campaign told the Daily Caller that her political opponents were behind the newly released audio, accusing them of “false and irresponsible attacks.”
“Even in the middle of a public health crisis, Sara’s political opponents are willing to make false and irresponsible attacks. Instead of acting with the urgency Sara, Governor Mills and Maine Legislature did, Washington dragged its feet and here in Maine, we still don’t have the testing materials and personal protective equipment Sara said was a priority back in February,” Gideon’s communications director Maeve Coyle told the Caller.