Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Sunday that the country did not need “divisiveness” during the coronavirus pandemic after President Donald Trump lambasted the Democratic governor a day earlier over gun control measures.
“This is not the time for divisiveness,” Northam said after Trump’s Saturday White House briefing on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus.
Trump, who lashed out at “complaining” governors and blamed many of them for not making full use of testing capacity in their states, singled out Northam, saying the state of Virginia is “trying to take that Second Amendment right away.”
Trump’s comments came after Northam recently signed a series of gun control measures into law, including a background check bill and an “extreme risk protective order,” also known as a “red flag” law.
On Sunday, Northam defended the measures on “State of the Union,” telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that he was pleased to sign the measures “that will keep Virginians safe.”
“That’s what happens when people listen, and they’ve responded. And right now, Jake, this is about this pandemic,” he said. “I’ll be glad to talk about gun violence and what we’ve done, but it’s time for Virginia, for this country, to come together and address the lives that we are losing every day and to try to put this health crisis behind us.”
In a series of tweets Friday, Trump said “LIBERATE” Virginia, Minnesota and Michigan, three states with Democratic governors. Michigan and Minnesota have seen protests as people grow concerned about the economic fallout from the pandemic, with protesters voicing opposition to stay-at-home orders.
Asked about the President’s tweet during a press briefing Friday, Northam said, “I do not have time to involve myself in Twitter wars.”
“I would just simply say, that as the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I along with his staff, is fighting a biological war,” Northam said. “I do not have time to involve myself in Twitter wars, I will continue to make sure that I do everything that I can to keep Virginians safe and to save lives.”
Northam again responded to the tweet on Sunday and told Tapper that the President should focus on leadership.
“Our President obviously has been unable to deliver on tests. Now he has chosen to focus on protests. And this is not the time for protests, this is not the time for divisiveness,” Northam said. “This is time for leadership, that we’ll stand up and provide empathy. That we’ll understand what’s going on in this country of ours with this pandemic. It’s the time for truth and it’s the time to bring people together.”
There are more than 735,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 39,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Virginia has over 8,000 confirmed cases and over 250 people have died.