(CNN)Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth on Sunday condemned President Donald Trump’s divisive message at Mount Rushmore over the weekend, saying his “priorities are all wrong” and adding that he has failed in his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump on Friday delivered a message that stoked racial and cultural division in the US, instead of unifying the country which is embroiled in two crises — the coronavirus pandemic and racial reckoning. The President on Saturday also gave a similar speech to commemorate Independence Day, in which he accused social justice protesters of trying to destroy America and compared the US’s fight against Nazis and terrorists to his efforts to defeat “the radical left.” He also claimed without evidence that 99% of coronavirus cases “are totally harmless.””What really struck me about the speech that the President gave at Mount Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead Confederates than he did talking about the lives of the 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to Covid-19 or by warning Russia off of the bounty they’re putting on American’s heads,” Duckworth, a Democrat, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “I mean his priorities are all wrong here. He should be talking about what we’re going to do to overcome this pandemic. What are we going to do to push Russia back? And instead he had no time for that.”She later added, “Both this President and the man he put in charge of the pandemic response team, the Vice President (Mike Pence), have both failed miserably at their jobs.”There have been more than 2.8 million cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 129,676 people in the US have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s latest tally. Illinois is one of the top 10 states with the most confirmed cases of coronavirus, where more than 146,000 people have been infected and at least 1,157 people have died.Read MoreTrump, also while in South Dakota on Friday, again vowed to protect monuments, suggesting the national sculpture on Mount Rushmore with faces of former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt was at risk of being destroyed by protesters. Asked if she supports calls for statues of Washington and Jefferson be to be taken down, Duckworth said, “We should start off by having a national dialogue on it” and later said, “I think we should listen to everybody.”The combat veteran who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and supports a measure to remove Confederate names from military bases, also reiterated her previous notion that she is blocking Senate confirmation of 1,123 senior US Armed Forces promotions until she receives assurances that the promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a witness in Trump’s impeachment inquiry, won’t be blocked. Trump has threatened to veto the must-pass defense spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, if lawmakers do not remove language requiring bases named after Confederate leaders be renamed. Senate Republicans have urged the President to not veto the bill and while some Republicans oppose the measure in the bill, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who is also a member of the Armed Services Committee, supports it. “Well, I would love that he would sign the bill and move forward, but absolutely, we have to have the discussions,” Ernst told Bash on the same program on Sunday. “We have to do that. And if that’s what will help, if we can all get together as stakeholders, then I think it’s the right thing to do.”‘He’ll pick the right person’Duckworth, who has been floated as a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, told Bash she believes Black women are “a key to the victory for Democrats” when asked if the former Vice President should choose a Black woman as his running mate and said he will pick “the right person to be next to him.””I think Joe Biden needs to make (up) his own mind and will make (up) his own mind. I don’t think it’s on any of us to dictate to him — he knows best who he needs as a vice president, who can help him connect with the American people, who can help him overcome the crises that we’re operating under right now,” she said. “He’ll pick the right person to help him do that. “Former national security adviser Susan Rice, who has also been suggested as a potential pick for vice president, echoed the message on Sunday and said she would use her experience to help Biden get elected.”I’ve worked on multiple campaigns, presidential campaigns. I’ve been on the campaign trail as a surrogate and I’m going to do everything I can to help get Joe Biden elected and to help him succeed as President, whether I am his running mate or I’m a door knocker. I don’t mind,” she told Andrea Mitchell on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “I just want to get Joe Biden elected and see the Democrats control the Senate and retain the House.”This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Clare Foran, Ted Barrett Ryan Browne and Nicky Robertson contributed to this report.