Donald Trump appeared to have a moment of self-awareness on Tuesday during a pandemic press briefing when the topic of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has clashed with the president on many points, came up. A reporter asked Trump about Fauci’s stance on hydroxychloroquine, which is in the news again due to Trump’s promotion of a speech by Dr. Stella “Demon Sperm” Immanuel.
Trump admitted to not being aware of Fauci’s position on hydroxychloroquine, and then went into one of his characteristic tangents, claiming the doctor credited him with saving “tens of thousands of lives” and saying they “get along very well.” Then he pivoted to approval ratings.
“And he’s got this high approval rating. So, why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration — with respect to the virus?” Trumps wondered. “We should have it very high, because what we’ve done in terms of — we’re just reading off about the masks and the gowns and the ventilators. Numbers that nobody’s seen.”
The president seemed to struggle with the idea that someone could work in his administration and be liked but not rub some of that good will off onto his own approval ratings.
“So it sort of is curious. A man works for us, with us, very closely, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx also, highly thought of, and yet — they’re highly thought of, but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all.”
Trump’s relationship with Fauci hasn’t been quite as amicable as the president suggested in this particular press briefing, however. His administration recently sent out a list of things that the doctor had supposedly been wrong about in terms of the pandemic to mainstream news outlets that was described by many as looking like a smear campaign from a rival politician. Trump himself retweeted a now-removed post calling Fauci a fraud.
What Trump is correct about, however, is the poll numbers. A recent ABC News poll found that a full two-thirds of respondents gave Trump “low marks” on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Another poll found that about the same number of people expressed faith in Dr. Fauci on the same subject. The doctor’s former colleague’s have also stepped forward to praise him for his dedication to his work and his willingness to put his own safety at risk to save lives.
Meanwhile, Twitter users have some of their own theories as to why Trump isn’t as well-liked as Dr. Fauci.