Trump accuses Democrats of 'hoax' for criticizing virus plan

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Attendees gather outside a campaign rally for President Donald Trump, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump lashed out Friday at Democrats who have questioned his handling of the coronavirus threat, calling their criticism a new “hoax” intended to undermine his leadership.

At a political rally in South Carolina, Trump sought to steal some of the spotlight from his Democratic rivals who were campaigning across the state on the evening before its presidential primary.

Trump accused Democrats of “politicizing” the coronavirus threat and boasted about preventive steps he's ordered in an attempt to keep the virus that originated in China from spreading across the United States.

Shortly before Trump began to speak, health officials confirmed a second case of coronavirus in the U.S. in a person who didn't travel internationally or have close contact with anyone who had the virus. The president did not mention that news.

“They have no clue. They don't have a clue. They can't even count their votes in Iowa,” Trump said, referring to problems that plagued the Democratic vote in the Iowa caucuses Feb. 3.

“They tried the impeachment hoax. ... This is their new hoax,” Trump said of Democratic denunciations of his administration's coronavirus response.

Some Democrats have said Trump could have acted sooner to bolster the U.S. response to the virus. Democratic and Republican lawmakers also have said his request for an additional $2.5 billion to defend against the virus isn't enough. They've signaled they will provide substantially more funding.

Trump said Democrats want him to fail and argued that steps he's taken so far have kept cases to a minimum and prevented virus deaths in the U.S.