The country’s best infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has asked Trump’s campaign to refrain from using it in future advertising campaigns, saying on Monday that it would be “scandalous” and “terrible” if he were included in another advertisement and may “come back to turn” on Team Trump.
Asked by The Daily Beast if his comments were a thin thread to leave his post if he found himself in a new position in the campaign, Fauci: “No way.”
“Not in my wildest disgusting dreams,” he said, “did I ever think of leaving.”
From there, Fautsi went on to explain what he meant by “backfire.”
“By doing this against my will, they are actually harassing me,” Fautsi said. “Because the ads in the campaigns are for votes, harassing me can have the opposite effect of excluding some voters.”
Fauci’s comments underscore the rising tensions between the White House and the COVID presidential task force as the election draws drastically and with COVID infections spreading across the country.
Fauci, a member of this White House coronavirus task force, is proud to be apolitical. And he backed away aggressively over the weekend when President Donald Trump’s campaign showed him in a video ad and used remarks he made in the past out of context.
“In nearly five decades in public office, I have never publicly endorsed a single political candidate,” Fauzi told CNN on Sunday. “The comments that were attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign advertisement were taken out of context by a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.
The ad included Fauci, saying, “I can’t imagine anyone doing more,” suggesting he was referring to Trump and his response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the best doctor noted that he was actually talking about the working group as a whole during the first days of the crisis.
The president’s campaign, meanwhile, responded that “these are Dr. Fautsi’s own words” and that he “praises the work of the Trump administration.” Trump also defended the ad, reiterating that “they really are Dr. Fauci’s words.”
Appears on CNN Lead on Monday, Fawzi was immediately anchored by Jake Tapper over growing controversy and whether he believed Trump’s campaign should take down the ad.
“You know, I think so,” the doctor replied. “I think it’s really unfortunate and really disappointing that they did that. It is so clear that I am not a political person and I have never, either directly or indirectly, approved a candidate. And to take a statement completely out of context and put it, which is obviously an advertisement for a political campaign, I thought it was really very disappointing. “
Tapper, meanwhile, has suggested that Trump’s campaign already plans to use Fautsi again, without his permission, in another political advertisement.
“What would you say if I told you that I heard that Trump’s campaign was preparing to do another commercial with your participation?” Tapper asked.
“You know, that would be awful,” Foucie sighed. “It simply came to our notice then. In fact, it can actually affect them. “
“I hope they don’t,” the public health expert continued. “It would be something like a game we don’t want to play. I hope they rethink that they are actually considering doing so. I hope they reconsider and do not. “
Trump’s campaign did not return a request for clarification if such an advertisement was under development.
Tapper will continue to ask Fauci about the president’s insistence on resuming public rallies in the wake of his hospitalization for COVID-19, wondering out loud how safe they can be, given that Trump’s campaign will not require masks for face and social distancing.
“Put aside all questions about the political consequences of the rally and just put them aside and look at it purely from the context of public health,” he said. “We know we want trouble when you do it, we’ve seen that when you have situations in general settings where there are a lot of people without masks.”
“The data speaks for itself,” Fautsi continued. “It’s happening. And now is an even worse time to do that. When you look at what’s happening in the United States, it’s really very disturbing.”
“With additional reporting from Sam Stein.”