Dr. Anthony Fauci says top U.S. college athletic programs and professional sports leagues are managing risks for COVID-19 infections far more professionally than the situation at the White House that led to President Donald Trump’s illness. (Oct. 6) AP Domestic
WASHINGTON – Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday the political advertisement from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign featuring him should be taken down.
Appearing on CNN, Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, called the ad “really unfortunate and really disappointing.”
Asked by Jake Tapper, anchor of “The Lead”, whether he believes the Trump campaign should take the ad down, Fauci said, “I think so.”
“It’s so clear that I’m not a political person,” Fauci continued. “And I have never — either 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 very disappointing.”
The 30-second spot seeks to highlight how Trump, who caught COVID-19 earlier this month, and the U.S. economy are recovering from the contagion.
The ad tries to portray the president as taking decisive action despite previously downplaying the disease in public and makes it sound as if Fauci was endorsing Trump’s effort, rather than the response of the whole of government.
“President Trump tackled the virus head-on as leaders should,” the narrator says, followed by a short, edited clip of Fauci saying, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”
That clip comes from an interview Fauci did in March, where he was talking about how much time he had been devoting to combating the coronavirus.
“I’m down at the White House virtually every day with the task force,” Fauci said at the time. “I’m connected by phone throughout the day and into the night and when I say night, I’m talking twelve, one, two in the morning. I’m not the only one. There’s a whole group of us that are doing that. It’s every single day. So I can’t imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more. I mean, obviously, we’re fighting a formidable enemy — this virus. This virus is a serious issue here.”
Trump Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said there are no plans to take down the Fauci ad, which is airing in the key swing-state of Michigan.
Questioned Monday on CNN about possibly being featured in additional campaign ads, Fauci continued: “That would be terrible.”
“I hope they don’t do that because that would be kind of playing a game that we don’t want to play,” he said.
Trump is returning to the campaign trail Monday with a rally planned in Florida, less than two weeks after he announced he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Put aside all of the issues of what political implications a rally has and just put that aside and look at it purely in the context of public health. We know that that is asking for trouble when you do that. We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings, where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves. It happens,” Fauci said on CNN.
He continued, “And now is even more so a worse time to do that because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome.”
Contributing: Michael Collins, Phillip M. Bailey USA TODAY
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