(CNN) – Dr. Anthony Fauci declined to appear in a new Trump campaign ad touting President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic . Instead, the nation’s top infectious disease expert told CNN that his words were taken out of context.
“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 Republican campaign announcement were taken out of context from a comprehensive statement I made months ago about the efforts of public health officials, ”Fauci said in a statement provided exclusively to CNN when asked. He asked if he agreed to appear in the ad.
The Trump campaign released the new ad last week after the president was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following treatment for COVID-19. The 30-second ad, which airs in Michigan, touts Trump’s personal experience with the virus and uses a quote from Fauci in an attempt to make it sound like he’s praising Trump’s response.
“President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is the United States,” says the narrator of the announcement. “Together we rise to meet the challenge, protecting our seniors, providing them with life-saving medications in record time, sparing no expense.”
Then the ad shows an interview with Fauci in which he says, “I can’t imagine someone who could be doing more.”
Although no date is provided in the announcement, Fauci’s quote is from an interview with Fox News in March. During that interview, Fauci praised the White House coronavirus task force’s uninterrupted effort to respond to the pandemic, which he said included numerous meetings at the White House and late-night phone calls.
“We have never had a threat like this. The coordinated response has been… There are a series of adjectives to describe it; awesome, I think it’s one of them. We’re talking hands-on, as one of many people on a team, I’m not the only person, ”Fauci said at the time. “From the beginning, when we even recognized what it was, I have spent most of my time on this. I am in the White House practically every day with the task force. It is every day. So I can’t imagine that, under any circumstances, someone could be doing more.
Responding to Fauci saying the ad took his words out of context, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said: “These are Dr. Fauci’s own words. The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci praised the work of the Trump Administration. The words spoken are precise and come directly from the mouth of Dr. Fauci.
Fauci in the new ad appeared to be an acknowledgment by the Trump campaign that the doctor is a voice that voters trust when it comes to the pandemic. Trump has privately and publicly compared Fauci’s approval to his own.
In late July, Trump publicly wondered why the doctor’s approval rating is so high when his is so low.
It’s interesting: it has a very good approval rating. And I like that, it’s good, “said Trump. Because remember: he is working for this administration. He is working with us. We could have gotten other people. We could have gotten someone else. It didn’t have to be Dr. Fauci. He’s working with our administration. And for the majority, we’ve done what he and others, and Dr. (Deborah) Birx and others, have recommended.
Trump continued: “And he has this high approval rating. So why don’t I have a high approval rating regarding – and the administration – regarding the virus? We should have it very high.
On ABC News Sunday, Jon Karl, who was the guest host of “This Week,” said he asked Fauci for an interview and, although he was willing to participate, the White House blocked the appearance. Karl said other medical experts were also requested on the task force, but the White House did not offer anyone.
White House communications director Alyssa Farah noted on Twitter later Sunday that Fauci had made several television appearances in the past week.