Heading into the election, Donald Trump is trying very hard to convince voters that he wasn’t responsible for the incredible mismanagement of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and that he actually handled things well. There are 200,000+ examples of how wrong he is, but he’s still pushing that narrative.
In a new campaign ad, Trump even uses a quote from infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, pretty much the only person many Americans trust on anything COVID-19-related, to tout his purported accomplishments. “President Trump tackled the virus head-on, as leaders should,” says the ad’s narrator before cutting to Fauci with what appears to be an endorsement of Trump’s actions. “I can’t imagine … that anybody could be doing more,” the doctor says in the brief, edited clip.
Except Fauci wasn’t talking about Trump when he said that. In a statement made to CNN, Fauci said that the comments in the ad “were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”
“In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,” Fauci said, noting that the comments were used in the ad without his permission.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says “it’s really unfortunate and really disappointing” that the Trump campaign featured him in an ad touting the President’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
— CNN (@CNN) October 12, 2020
In an interview on CNN, Jake Tapper asked Dr. Fauci if he thought the Trump campaign should take the ad down. “I think so, Jake,” he answered. “I think it’s really unfortunate and really disappointing that they did that. It’s so clear that I’m not a political person and I have neither directly or indirectly endorsed a political candidate. And to take a completely out-of-context statement and put it in which is obviously a political campaign ad, I thought was really disappointing.”
Tapper indicated that he’d heard the Trump campaign was planning to do another campaign ad featuring Fauci, something the doctor called “terrible” and “outrageous,” adding that it might actually “come back to backfire on them.”
The Daily Beast asked Fauci to clarify what he meant by “backfire,” and if that might be a threat that he would step down from his position and he said no, “not a chance.”
“Not in my wildest freakin’ dreams,” he told the outlet, “did I ever think about quitting.”
“By doing this against my will they are, in effect, harassing me,” Fauci continued. “Since campaign ads are about getting votes, their harassment of me might have the opposite effect of turning some voters off.”
It makes sense that Fauci, who has served under presidents of both parties, wouldn’t endorse a candidate. So we’ll just have to settle for him publicly contradicting Trump’s ridiculous unscientific claims about COVID-19, labelling Trump’s Rose Garden party as a “superspreader event,” and reportedly (though Fauci denies it) saying Trump’s attention span is “like a minus number.”
I get why Fauci doesn’t endorse politicians but my god man, if there was ever a time to start …
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 11, 2020
(image: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images)
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