Dr. Anthony Fauci’s displeasure with the news that he may, again, be used in a Trump presidential campaign ad was palpable during a Monday appearance on CNN.
When host Jake Tapper told the nation’s top infectious disease expert about his reporting regarding the Trump team’s plans to do another ad featuring him, Fauci strongly condemned that possibility.
“What would you say if I told you I heard that the Trump campaign was actually preparing to do another ad featuring you?” Tapper asked.
“You know, that would be terrible. I mean, that would be outrageous if they do that,” Fauci answered.
The doctor then spoke to the ramifications of such a move.
“In fact, that might actually come back to backfire on them,” he said, “I hope they don’t do that because that would be kind of playing a game that we don’t want to play.”
Strong words from Fauci: another ad featuring him would be “outrageous” and “backfire” on Trump pic.twitter.com/DP4ANLfFNA
— Peter Wade (@brooklynmutt) October 12, 2020
Over the weekend Fauci felt compelled to go public and denounce an ad from the Trump campaign that used a video clip of him from months ago that took his words out of context.
The ad used footage from a March interview with Fox News where Fauci was praising federal public health officials, saying, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.” But the edit left a false impression that the doctor was gushing about Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
Fauci condemned the ad in a statement on Sunday to CNN, saying, “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh responded to Fauci’s statement by basically saying too bad.
“These are Dr. Fauci’s own words. The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth.”
Following this afternoon’s interview, the Daily Beast asked Fauci if his remarks were meant as a threat that he would leave his position as the director of NIAID if he were used again in a Trump campaign ad.
Fauci replied: “Not a chance. Not in my wildest freakin’ dreams did I ever think about quitting.”
Fauci went on to explain what he meant by “backfire,” saying the campaign’s use of him in ads, against his will, is harassment and voters will not take kindly to it.
“By doing this against my will, they are in effect harassing me,” Fauci said. He added, “Since campaign ads are about getting votes, their harassment of me might have the opposite effect of turning some voters off.”
Fauci’s take is logical, but logic seemingly never fails to stop Trump. The president and his minions are well aware of Fauci’s stellar reputation, it’s the number one reason he’s lasted this long in an administration notorious for firing people. So they will use his words and trustworthy image, even dishonestly, if they deem it advantageous. Nothing is out of bounds with this crew. As the always classy Dr. Fauci politely told Tapper, the entire episode is “really unfortunate and really disappointing.”