November 3, 2020
President Trump revealed at a rally early Monday morning that he was leaning toward firing America’s leading infectious disease expert—Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—after Election Day, further escalating the tension as the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States reaches record highs.
His supporters did not seem to have a problem with that plan—chanting, “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!” after Trump revealed his intentions. The president listened in silence for a few moments before remarking: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice,” The New York Times reports.
The president spoke well past midnight at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Florida at his fifth and final rally of the day. Indeed, his comments about Dr. Fauci came toward the end of what was a whirlwind day of campaigning across five states — Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida—nd he spoke even as a local curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus took effect at midnight.
On Friday, more than 99,000 coronavirus infections were reported across the country, a single-day record. Nonetheless, the Times noted, Trump has maintained without citing evidence that the United States has “turned the corner” in fighting the virus, a point he reiterated at the rally early Monday.
That assertion is strongly disputed by Dr. Fauci, who told the The Washington Post in an interview published on October 31 ththe United States “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” as it heads into at winter. A White House spokesman later called Dr. Fauci’s comments “unacceptable.”
By contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, has said repeatedly that if he were to win the presidency, he is hopeful Dr. Fauci would remain in his role and serve in his administration.
According to the Times, Trump’s quip about Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was part of an hourlong mix of meanspirited jokes, misstatements, hyperbole, self-congratulation, and occasional on-script arguments he made for his re-election.
Mr. Trump has adopted Florida as his home turf, and it is a swing state that he desperately needs to win to open paths to another four-year term. Although he narrowly prevailed there in 2016, polls, including one released November 1 by The New York Times and Siena College, have shown him trailing Mr. Biden in a tight race.
Research contact: @nytimes