On Saturday, the Trump campaign released a 30-second political ad that focuses on how President Trump has handled the coronavirus crisis.
“President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America,” the ad opens, before praising how Trump has managed the pandemic in the United States. The ad then goes on to feature a clip of Doctor Anthony Fauci saying: “I can’t imagine that… anybody could be doing more.”
Doctor Fauci, who has helped lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has since pushed back against the use of his words in the advertisement. In a statement to CNN that was published Sunday, Fauci said: “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.”
The original statement appears to be from an interview given by Fauci to Fox News back in March, where he seems to be referring to the work of the task force as a whole and not praising the President himself.
President Trump has been heavily critiqued over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, something which is considered by many to be one of his weak points in his 2020 bid for re-election. In one poll that asked a random sample of voters who they trusted to handle the COVID-19 crisis, 55% of respondents said that they would trust Biden more while 38% of respondents trusted Trump more.
While Trump has worn masks, his administration has also faced scrutiny for his seemingly dismissive attitude towards their effectiveness. During a press conference on April 3, when the CDC was releasing new guidance on face masks, he said: “The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it’s voluntary, you don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time, but this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
More recently, during the first presidential debate, Trump critiqued the mask-wearing habits of his opponent, Joe Biden.
“When needed, I wear masks. I don’t – I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump said.
The Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus has turned into a key talking point for the Biden-Harris campaign, with Senator Kamala Harris calling it “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country” during her debate with Vice President Pence.
Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, responded to Fauci’s claims by saying: “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.”
Reports suggest that the Trump campaign currently intends on continuing to air the ad.