Trump campaign is “in place and bothering me”
The nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, urged the Trump campaign not to use him in future campaign ads, and said Monday it would be “outrageous” and “horrible” if he was on another commercial and he could “backfire” “On Team Trump.
When asked by The Daily Beast whether his comments were a barely disguised threat to leave his post if he lands on a new campaign spot, Fauci replied, “No chance.”
“Not in my wildest dreams,” he said, “have I ever thought of quitting.”
From there, Fauci explained what he meant by “setback”.
“By doing this against my will, you are actually harassing me,” said Fauci.
Fauci’s comments underscore the heightened tensions that have erupted between the White House and the President’s COVID task force as elections dramatically end and COVID infections spiked across the country.
Fauci, a member of this White House coronavirus task force, prides itself on being apolitical. And he pushed back aggressively over the weekend when President Donald Trump’s campaign featured him in a video ad, throwing statements from the past out of context.
“In my nearly five decades in the public service, I have never publicly supported a political candidate,” Fauci told CNN on Sunday. “The comments attributed to me on the GOP campaign ad without my permission were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal health officials.”
In the ad, Fauci said, “I can’t imagine anyone could do more,” suggesting he was referring to Trump and his response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the top doctor noted that in the early days of the crisis he was actually talking about the task force in general.
The president’s campaign, meanwhile, shot back that “This is Dr. Fauci’s own words ”and that he“ praises the work of the Trump administration ”. Trump also defended the ad, reiterating that “it is actually Dr. Fauci’s own words are ”.
When Fauci appeared on CNN’s The Lead on Monday, Fauci was immediately put on the growing controversy by anchor Jake Tapper and whether he believed the Trump campaign should remove the ad.
“You know, I think so,” replied the doctor. “I think it’s a shame and really disappointing that you did that. It is so clear that I am not a political person and have not directly or indirectly supported a candidate. And to take a completely out of context statement, which is obviously a political campaign, I found really very disappointing. “
Tapper, meanwhile, hinted that the Trump campaign was already planning to reinstate Fauci in another political commercial without his permission.
“What would you say if I told you that the Trump campaign is preparing to do another ad with you?” Asked Tapper.
“You know, that would be terrible,” sighed an emptied Fauci. “That would be outrageous if you did that. In fact, it could even backfire. “
“I hope they don’t,” continued the public health expert. “That would be a kind of game that we don’t want to play. I hope you will reconsider if you actually consider this. I hope they think it over and don’t do that. “
The Trump campaign did not return a request for clarification when such an ad was in the works.
Tapper asked Fauci about the president’s insistence on resuming his public rallies after being hospitalized for COVID-19, wondering aloud how safe they can be, considering the Trump campaign doesn’t require face masks and social distancing.
“Put aside any questions about the political implications of the rally and just put them aside and look at them from a public health context only,” he said. “We know it takes trouble when you do this. We have seen that there are situations in gatherings where there are many people without masks.”
“The data speaks for itself,” continued Fauci. “It happens. And now it’s even worse to do that. When you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome.”
—With additional coverage from Sam Stein.