Election day is mere weeks away, and right now incumbent Donald Trump is trailing in the polls. Granted, he was trailing this time four years back, and we all know how that turned out. But the numbers appear to be getting to him, as he’s become more erratic and desperate than ever before. A new pro-Trump ad tries to argue that the president’s administration has done a stellar job at fighting the novel coronavirus. It even featured what seemed like a rave from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most popular and most trusted member of his task force. But on Sunday, Dr. Fauci himself said those words were taken out of context.
On Monday, Trump’s opponent pounced. The Joe Biden team released a clever campaign video, which not only pelted the president for this action, but did so by responding in kind. The ad splices together a couple dozen public Trump appearances, making him look like he’s doing something he’d never do: admitting fault.
Donald Trump is running TV ads taking Dr. Fauci out of context and without his permission.
So, here’s a message from the President in his own words. pic.twitter.com/WCYbIfrQLR
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 12, 2020
And so, through the magic of obviously misleading editing, Trump is made to say the following words: “I am failing at managing the coronavirus outbreak, so I used Dr. Fauci in an ad to say I’m doing a good job. But it’s fake. He never said that.” The Trump of Biden’s ad then goes one further, making him do another thing he’s never done: apologize. “Sorry to Dr. Fauci, and sorry to everyone else.”
The Trump ad tries to paint a heroic portrait of the last nine months, glossing over things like the alarming body count, the supplies that were shorted to certain (usually blue) states, and the misleading messaging from Trump highers-up about masks and other safety precautions. It also includes an undated video clip of Dr. Fauci saying, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”
Dr. Fauci, who has kept any critiques of his famously tetchy boss to a minimum, pushed back on this one, telling CNN, that the words were “taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials,” and that they were “attributed to me without my permission.” He added, “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate.”
The Biden team has mostly took the high road during its campaign, leaving the more cutting and sardonic commentary to the likes of the Never Trump Republican-led folks at the Lincoln Project. But this one — forceful and funny in equal measure — is a step in a new direction.