Washington, Oct 11 (efe-epa).- The US government’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the key spokesmen on health issues amid the coronavirus pandemic, said Sunday that President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign took comments he had made out of context and used them in a campaign advertisement without his consent.
“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,” Fauci said in a statement sent to CNN.
Fauci, who has become the public face of the fight against the coronavirus in the US, said that in his “nearly five decades of public service” he has never publicly endorsed a political candidate.
His remarks came in reaction to the dissemination of an advertisement lasting 30 seconds created by the Trump campaign that talks about the administration’s management of the pandemic and discusses the recuperation of the president from Covid-19 after being diagnosed with the disease on Oct 2 and being taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for emergency treatment.
The ad seeks to compare how Trump and the U.S. economy both are recovering from the disease and it attempts to show that the president is acting decisively to deal with the pandemic despite previously downplaying it, which Trump says he did in order to prevent a nationwide “panic.”
“President Trump tackled the virus head on as leaders should,” the narrator in the ad says, after which a short clip of Fauci run in which he says, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”
Fauci’s short remark in the ad comes from an interview he did in March talking about how much time he had been devoting to fighting the coronavirus.
“I’m down at the White House virtually every day with the task force,” Fauci said in the interview. “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.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign manager, Tim Murtaugh, defended using Fauci’s image and words in the spot when reached for comment on Sunday.
“These are Dr. Fauci’s own words,” he said. “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.”
Trump himself echoed that sentiment on his Twitter account on Sunday evening, tweeting: “They are indeed Dr. Fauci’s own words. We have done a ‘phenomenal’ job, according to certain governors. Many people agree.”
The management of the coronavirus pandemic has been one of the most controversial elements of the Trump administration, and the issue has been in the spotlight of the presidential campaign between Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden for months in the run-up to the Nov. 3 vote.
So far, 7.7 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been detected in the US and more than 214,000 people have died from the highly contagious disease, according to the independent tally being kept by The Johns Hopkins University.
The US leads the world in numbers of infections and deaths, followed by India and Brazil.