President Trump used a White House press briefing on Tuesday to wonder aloud why he was less liked than Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of the White House coronavirus task force.
“Nobody likes me,” the president said in a rare moment of self-reflection. “It can only be my personality, that's all.” The lament came on the same day that the nation surpassed the grim benchmark of 150,000 deaths as a result of the worsening pandemic.
“Remember, he's working for this administration,” Trump said of Fauci, who is not a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the president. “He's working with us. We could've gotten other people. We could've gotten somebody else. It didn't have to be Dr. Fauci.”
Trump has long been at odds with Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. A veteran of the battle to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, Fauci is now serving his sixth president. And though he is adept at protecting his domain, he has lately been forced to navigate a political climate in which science and expertise have been treated with profound suspicion.“He's got this high approval rating,” Trump said of Fauci on Tuesday. “So why don't I have a high approval rating and the administration with respect to the virus?"
Trump’s approval rating has suffered from what critics have described as an erratic and inattentive handling of the pandemic. That approval rating now stands at about 40 percent, a dangerously low number for a president seeking reelection.
Fauci, by contrast, is not an elected official, but his frank assessments of the pandemic, delivered in a strong Brooklyn accent, have earned him public affec