Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, says the president’s unauthorized use of his comments on a campaign ad is a form of harassment. “By doing this against my will, you are actually harassing me,” he told The Daily Beast in a report released Monday.
Fauci also said he thinks the approach could backfire and hurt President Trump’s re-election chances. “By doing this against my will, you are actually harassing me,” he said. “Since campaign ads are about getting votes, harassing me could have the opposite effect of killing some voters.”
The 30-second ad from Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign praises the president’s handling of the coronavirus and includes an edited clip by Fauci that allegedly said, “I can’t imagine … anyone could do more.” Trump addresses the pandemic.
Fauci said Sunday that the comment is unrelated and has been used without his permission.
“In my nearly five decades in the public service, I have never publicly endorsed a political candidate. The comments attributed to me in the GOP campaign ad without my permission have been taken out of the context of a comprehensive statement I made months ago about the Federal efforts have given up public health officials, “Fauci said in a statement to CNN.
He told CNN’s Jake Tapper Monday that the campaign’s decision to use his comments was “very disappointing.”
“It is so clear that I am not a political person. I have not endorsed any political candidate, directly or indirectly,” he said. “I found it really very disappointing to make a completely out of context statement that is obviously an advertisement for a political campaign.”
Despite Fauci’s public rejection of the ad, Tapper said he learned that the Trump campaign had plans to feature him in another promotion. “That would be terrible. It would be outrageous if they did that,” replied Fauci on the news, adding, “In fact, that might actually backfire. I hope they don’t.” because that would be some kind of game we don’t wanna play … I hope they reconsider that and don’t do that. “
During the same interview, Fauci also noted that he believes the president’s rallies “are asking for trouble”.
Mr Trump held a one-hour rally in Sanford, Florida on Monday, his first trip from the White House since his diagnosis of COVID-19. The president joked that he felt so “powerful” and “immune” that he could “kiss” anyone in the audience.
“I’ve been through it. Now they say I’m immune,” he said. “I feel so powerful that I’m going to go into that audience. I’m going to go in there, I’m going to kiss everyone in this audience. I’m going to kiss the guys and the beautiful woman and the – I’m just going to give you one big fat kiss.” “Despite CDC guidelines, CBS Miami reports that Trump supporters were not far away and many were not wearing face coverings.
CBS News spoke to some of the supporters who stood in line for hours for the president’s rally. When asked about COVID-19 protocols and large White House gatherings, Bill Cerelli of Tampa shrugged: “Seems like everyone has been tested. It’s an invisible disease. I’m not sure how much more you do can do. ”
Fauci said it was unsafe “in a purely public health context” to hold rallies that gather thousands of supporters, often disregarding masks and social distancing guidelines.
“We have seen that in gathering situations where there are many people without a mask, the data speaks for itself,” he said. “… and now it’s even worse to do that because when you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very tedious.”
President Trump hit Fauci on Tuesday with a tweet: “In fact, Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his predictions. ‘No problem, no masks.’ WHO no longer likes lockdowns – only spoke out against it. Trump was right. We have 2,000 .000 saved USA lives !!! “
Coronavirus cases areand only three see fewer cases. The country is seeing roughly twice as many new cases today as it was in early April.
The Midwest in particular has been hit hard in recent weeks. But there are also flare-ups in the northeast, where the average daily cases have increased nearly 40% over the past month. Average daily deaths are increasing in 10 states compared to two weeks ago, and the nation is seeing nearly 50,000 new cases every day.
“It’s going in the wrong direction right now,” Fauci said of the wave. “So if we’re going to do anything, we should double the public health measures we’ve been talking about for so long. Keep your distance, no crowds, wear masks, wash your hands, do things outside as opposed to inside.”
“We are entering the cool months of autumn and ultimately the cold months of winter and that’s just a recipe for a real problem if we don’t get things under control before we face this seasonal challenge.”
Nicole Sganga contributed to this report.