Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., sharply criticized President Biden and his handling of the COVID pandemic Tuesday, saying during an interview with Fox News Digital that she would grade his leadership over the last three years as “less than zero.”
The Biden administration’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to lockdowns and vaccine mandates ruined peoples’ livelihoods, devastated the economy and did incalculable damage to constituents in her 24th Congressional District and others around the country, she said.
“It’s about time,” Tenney told Fox News Digital when asked about Biden formally ending the COVID national emergency, which he signed earlier this week. It had been in effect since March 2020. “I have been calling for the end of the pandemic.”
“We focused on everybody with a one-sized fits all solution, which never works,” the New Yorker told Fox News Digital. “Instead of having a smart policy. We shut everybody down. We put our economy in peril. We hurt our communities, we lost livelihoods. They don’t want to follow the science.”
Representative Claudia Tenney, a Republican from New York, scolded President Biden over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (Ken Cedeno/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Tenney added: “Joe Biden announced last year that the pandemic is over, so why continue with the mandates on vaccines? Why continue to put employers through difficult times and not be able to get people back to work? Students not being able to go to school or to enroll in classes?”
Biden ‘absolutely not’ being transparent and honest with the American people
When asked whether the Biden administration was being honest with the American people, Tenney pointed to new information being revealed by Elon Musk, Matt Taibbi and others showing “all of the ridiculous protocols and the falsities that have come out on COVID-19.”
“[They are] exposing the kind of ridiculous non-science, political reasons that the Biden administration and others have required this vaccine mandate or really had the lockdowns and put us in a position that we couldn’t thrive,” the Republican lawmaker said. “Many people in many businesses have been hurt by these lockdowns and these closures and these vaccine mandates. People have lost their livelihoods.”
“They are not using science, and they’re being exposed everywhere,” she continued.
“Our own director of the CDC said that we’ve come to realize that the vaccines do not prevent the spread of this disease. So we’re forcing everyone to be vaccinated, and it does nothing in deterring or stopping the spread of the disease. So why are we forcing healthy people to take the vaccine?”
President Biden kept the travel restrictions and vaccine mandates in place several months after other country resume pre-pandemic policies. (Julien Behal/Irish Government via Getty Images)
People who were less susceptible to COVID and those “less vulnerable” should not have been forced to close their businesses, remain out of schools or surrender their livelihoods to haphazard restrictions, she contended.
Tenney added: “I’m talking about young people, college-age kids, teenagers, young children, athletes, that are elite athletes in the prime of their health, who have also maybe had COVID-19 and recovered. They completely disregarded the natural immunity.”
“I think they’ve gotten comfortable with their control over the American people,” the lawmaker speculated.
The pandemic fallout continues to affect New Yorkers and others
Biden’s vaccine mandate and the policies of New York’s “authoritarian” Gov. Kathy Hochul continue to have an impact on those in her state, Tenney said.
Nurses — “who were heroes during the pandemic” — are unable to assist in an ongoing nursing shortage because “the Biden administration continued the vaccine mandate” and Hochul “would not let these people [who would not or could not get the vaccine] get back to work,” she continued.
“And now, many of our rural hospitals in upstate New York are in peril,” the Republican said. “They’re facing fiscal crises right now, where they may not even be allowed to stay open because of the loss of staff. The requirement to shut down entire wings of hospitals, not because, you know, they were over capacitated because they simply don’t have the staff because the vaccine mandate and other rules put in place.”
Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., is interviewed by CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images in her Longworth Building office on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
These policies are going to hurt these hospitals and others affected “in the long run,” she contented. “We may not have enough hospital beds to even meet the needs of the people that need them now. And we could be in real crisis if we have another pandemic.”
“Finally, today, the president of the State University of New York system announced all 64 campuses now do not require the vaccine in order for students to attend college, which is great. This is one of the least vulnerable groups,” Tenney said.
Biden denying Novak Djokovic entry into the U.S. was ‘politics,’ not science
Tenney has been vocal about her support for tennis star Novak Djokovic, who is ranked among the best in the world, as he was denied access to play in the United States last year due to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.
“I pleaded with Secretary Blinken and Joe Biden in the administration to let Djokovic play. Novak Djokovic had COVID-19 [and natural immunity]. He’s extremely healthy. He’s one of the healthiest people probably on the planet with his incredible record as a tennis player at his age. Even the USTA and other tennis organizations have urged that Djokovic should be allowed to play and be given a waiver,” she explained.
The Biden administration denied her request, but they allowed other members of the US Open to play without being vaccinated, so she believes their reasoning was not based on science but on politics.
“Ironically, Djokovic actually played in 2020 and 2021. Before we had a vaccine, so it’s absurd,” she said. “This isn’t science. It’s politics, especially when it comes to Novak Djokovic because he doesn’t hold the views that this administration holds politically. And so the last thing they’re going to do is allow someone like Novak Djokovic, a waiver to come in. Regardless, I mean, sports should take us away from politics. And that’s why I’ve been fighting so hard. This is symbolic of what’s happened to Djokovic. And it’s what we shouldn’t be doing as a country.”
Novak Djokovic of Serbia was denied access to play in the United States due to his vaccination status. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
President Biden vs. President Trump
Tenney told Fox News Digital that the last four years gave Americans an opportunity to see how the Trump administration initially tackled the COVID pandemic when the disease “was very much an unknown.”
“There has been a lot of criticism of President Trump and his administration in this but [COVID] was very much an unknown. We couldn’t get to the heart of what was happening,” she said. “China was covering up the issues, the World Health Organization was perpetuating lies and covering up the information. But now we find out that it is indeed a result of a lab leak.”
Once COVID began spreading around the world, Trump took action to limit overseas flights.
Biden did as well, but the New York Republican said Biden kept these travel restrictions in place long after they needed to be. The U.S. maintained COVID-travel limits for months after other country resumed their pre-pandemic travel policies.
“President Trump did put into place Operation Warp Speed to bring us a vaccine, though it was an experimental vaccine, it wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t mandated. And they encouraged people to take the vaccine,” Tenney explained.
“But the mandates were really where the problem was. We didn’t allow doctors to actually make a patient-client decision, making sure that they knew that the patient could or could not tolerate these vaccines, and what was the best course of treatment for them,” she continued.
Representative Claudia Tenney, a Republican from New York, applauded President Donald Trump’s approach to the COVID pandemic as he provided information and federal assistance to states. (Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Tenney added: “But instead, it was this government-knows-all, Joe Biden-knows-all. His administration, based on politics, shut everybody down.”
While the Trump administration allowed states to dictate their own approach to the pandemic, the Biden administration “shamed and shunned everyone who questioned” how they governed.
“So I give Biden less than an F. And I give President Trump, you know, a decent score for at least trying to figure out what was happening. Vice President Pence issued guidelines to the states. They weren’t mandates,” the legislator continued.
Passengers stand in line for a Frontier Airlines flight at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, New York, on February 22, 2023. (Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images)
While not providing a grade for her own New York leadership, Tenney stressed many actions of the governor exacerbated problems in the state.
“These things were very poorly handled by then-Governor Cuomo in the state of New York, which is why we had so many problems, administering the vaccine, getting solutions out of our state. Our supply chains were a disaster, which is why we couldn’t get personal protective gear to people. All this stuff did not happen because of policies that were put in place,” the lawmaker said.
Biden’s first three years in office have been a ‘complete disaster’
The Republican lawmaker recalled Biden’s last three years in office as a “complete disaster” and said she initially guessed he would have needed “four years or potentially eight” years to make the impact he has already made.
But, Tenney said, Biden has “nearly destroyed and erased all the gains that we made in the four years under President Trump.”
“We see our economy is in free fall. It’s a disaster,” she explained. “Our international politics is a disaster, whether it’s the debacle that happened in Afghanistan that undermine our credibility [and] left 13 dead service members. [We’re] setting up weakness on energy. We are now no longer energy independent. We now are dependent on Venezuela [and] Saudi Arabia.”
Tenney’s son is a Marine, so the death of 11 Marine Corps servicemembers was “particularly devastating” for her and other Marine Corps families.
“All of our service members are precious,” she said. “The sacrifices they make and their families make was completely disregarded by Joe Biden. He said he had no regrets. I mean, these are absurd lies to the American people.”
She also said the Biden administration was continuing to try to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.
President Biden pauses while he speaks about the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House on August 26, 2021, in Washington, DC. At least 13 American service members were killed by suicide bomb attacks near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Biden has also “been unable to deter what happens between Putin, who is ruthlessly killing and murdering people in Ukraine, and the Ukrainians are bravely fighting for their survival,” Tenney said.
She continued: “They’re not getting assurances from Joe Biden and not getting the kind of support they need. The American people need a plan. What are we doing in Ukraine? Why are we spending so much of American money and not knowing what the plan is?”
Biden’s foreign policy has been “chaos,” she said, and current geo-political crises are so bad that “the Chinese are intervening.”
“Our allies, Saudi Arabia, even Macron of France, are turning to the Chinese Communist Party,” she added. “This is a disaster.”
Looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election
As for moving on from Biden in 2024, Tenney said the American people “need leadership now.”
“They don’t need a bumbling old man who is incompetent, who has always been incompetent on foreign policy and every other issue [and] who is corrupt,” she said, mentioning the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, and potential business connections through his son in Ukraine and China.
Potential voters in 2024 are “looking for the kind of America first policies that President Trump brought,” Tenney claimed. “I think people are looking for strong leadership, competent leadership.”
“They’re looking for decisive action, they’re looking for a leader who will stand up to our enemies stand up to China, rebuild our economy, because the most important defense that we have as a nation is a strong economy,” she continued, because “when the United States is strong and when we’re vibrant on the economy, the world is more peaceful.”
Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., said she would be open to backing several Republicans in the 2024 presidential election. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
The representative said there were “a lot of really great candidates” among Republicans, including those who have already announced their candidacies like former President Trump, Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy.
She also commended potential candidates who have not yet officially tossed their names into the running, like Gov. Ron DeSantis, Gov. Kristi Noem and Mike Pompeo.
“President Trump is very strong. He’s got great policies. He was one of the best presidents in the modern era,” she said. “He did a wonderful job and saved us from Hillary Clinton and the third term of Obama. He saved us from what I would say would be the near total collapse of what we have in preserving our constitutional republic.”
“We’ve got a lot of great potential Republican candidates” who are “out there having our conversation around the issues that matter to Americans, not talking about all the garbage that the Democrats talk about,” she said.
“We need to have somebody strong with conservative values, who cares about America and will bring our country back from the brink because I feel like we’re very, very close to losing our constitutional republic,” the Republican cautioned.
Despite the praise for several Republican candidates, Tenney said she had not yet decided on who she would be endorsing for the primary election. She may do so at a later time.
“I will endorse probably eventually,” she told Fox News Digital. “I endorsed President Trump in 2016. Though, initially, I was a [Sen. Ted] Cruz supporter.”
Former President Donald Trump arrives to Trump Tower on April 13, 2023, in New York City. (James Devaney/GC Images)
“I like a lot of the things that President Trump stands for, but I’d like to see where we’re gonna go with all these legal things,” the lawmaker said. The former president faces ongoing litigation including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s pursuit of criminal charges and additional fraud charges from New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Democrats are just trying to destroy him.”
She said she would be open to supporting another candidate, should the party go in another direction.
“I would actually support any of the Republican candidates that are out there. I think all of them would do an excellent job,” Tenney concluded. “And I think all of them would beat Joe Biden.”
And, she said, defeating Biden is something Republicans must do.
Tenney is a congresswoman representing the 24th Congressional District of New York since 2016. After losing her first re-election, she was elected back to office in 2020, where she says she prioritizes being transparent with her constituents by explaining complex bills and by defending each of her votes.