Donald Trump teases Florida crowd about firing Dr. Anthony Fauci

President Trump told a boisterous crowd at a midnight rally Sunday in Florida that he might comply with their chants to “fire Fauci.”

The chants to ax Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, started when Mr. Trump vowed to beat the coronavirus pandemic.

“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until after the election,” Mr. Trump said with a grin, whipping up the crowd at his fifth and final rally after hopscotching across the country Sunday.

At each stop, Mr. Trump railed against the news media’s relentless push of doomsday reporting about the pandemic and Democratic challenger Joseph R. Biden’s pledge to “follow the science” to potentially again shut down the economy.

The crowd at the Miami-area rally turned on Dr. Fauci.

Dr. Fauci has often been at odds with the president, including opposing his massive campaign rallies for risking COVID-19 outbreaks.

The buzz in Washington has long been that Mr. Trump would be committing political suicide if he fired Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

As with most everything involving Mr. Trump’s presidency, the pandemic and Dr. Fauci demarcate the political divide in the U.S.

For Mr. Trump’s fans, Dr. Fauci has become a symbol of heavy-handed government response to the pandemic. For Mr. Trump’s foes, Dr. Fauci represents the scientific consensus flouted by the president.

“He’s a nice man, but he’s been wrong a lot,” Mr. Trump said, noting Dr. Fauci’s opposition to his early move to block travel from China, where the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 originated.

“And he said later on that President Trump saved tens of thousands of lives,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump said the election was a choice between a return to normalcy or a “deadly lockdown” if his Mr. Biden prevails in the election Tuesday

“I just left a state that got locked down — I left two of them — and they were not happy about it,” Mr. Trump said of his earlier visits to Democratic-led battleground states North Carolina and Michigan.

“You know what’s gonna happen to them? On Nov. 4, the day after [the election], they’re going to say, ‘All right, we’ll open up,’ or we are going to have a safe vaccine that ends the pandemic,” Mr. Trump said.

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