Donald Trump sees a bright political future for Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The president joked at Friday’s daily press briefer on the coronavirus that the nation’s top doctor on infectious diseases could move to New York City and take on Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As the New York Post noted, Trump predicted that the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would win the matchup.
“I told Tony Fauci, why don’t you move to New York, run against AOC, you will win easily,” Trump joked, drawing laughs from some in the room, including Fauci himself.
“He’s decided that he’s not going to do that,” Trump added.
Fauci has taken on an enormous stature during the coronavirus crisis, delivering recommendations on how states should combat the virus and setting the stage for the federal government’s response. He has become quite popular during that time as well, with CNN noting that a number of tributes have emerged, including a New York bakery that created doughnuts with his face on them.
Trump has frequently taken aim at Ocasio-Cortez, the congresswoman from the Bronx who represents the district adjacent to where Trump grew up in Queens. Though she is in her first term in office, Ocasio-Cortez has found a national stature through her advocacy for progressive proposals like the Green New Deal. She has also frequently taken aim at Trump, including criticism for his recent move to take away oversight over a $500 business loan fund passed as part of the coronavirus relief package.
Fauci would make a formidable political opponent, should he choose to step out of the medical field.As the New York Post reported, Fauci has also seen sky-high approval ratings since stepping into the spotlight last month to brief Americans on the spread of the virus and what the federal government is doing to combat it. A Quinnipiac University survey found that Fauci was the most popular national figure amid the crisis, with a 78 percent approval rating and just 7 percent saying they disapprove of the job he is doing.
As Quinnipiac University polling analyst Mary Snow noted, Fauci seems to be one of the few figures that can unite a politically divided country.
“In a country gripped by crisis and divided by partisanship, public opinion is united when it comes to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Nearly eight in 10 voters give him a resounding thumbs up for the job he’s doing responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
While Fauci may not be running for office, he’s amassed plenty of time in government. As the New York Post noted, he has served in the federal government for every presidential administration dating back to Ronald Reagan.