US President Donald Trump sought Monday to buck up his campaign staffers two weeks from Election Day, dismissing the cautionary coronavirus advice of his scientific experts as well as polling showing him trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden across key battleground states.
Speaking to campaign aides on a conference call, Trump said he believes he’s going to win, allowing that he didn’t have that same sense of confidence two weeks ago when he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
One week since returning to the campaign trail, where his handling of the pandemic is a central issue to voters, Trump blasted his government’s own scientists for their criticism of his performance.
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Trump said of Dr. Anthony Fauci, declaring the government’s top infectious disease expert “a disaster.” But Fauci is both respected and popular, and Trump suggested firing the doctor would only create greater controversy. Trump’s rejection of scientific advice on the pandemic has already drawn bipartisan condemnation.
Fauci, in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, said he was not surprised that Trump contracted the virus after he held large events with few face coverings. Fauci also objected to the president’s campaign using his words in a campaign ad.
Trump held his call with campaign staffers from Las Vegas, where he was on the third day of a western campaign swing. He was to hold Arizona rallies in Prescott and Tucson later in the day before returning to the White House.
On Sunday, he expressed confusion that he could possibly be tied with Biden in Nevada — where polls actually show Trump trailing.
“How the hell can we be tied?” he said at a rally in Carson City. “What’s going on? ... We get these massive crowds. He gets nobody. And then they say we’re tied. ... It doesn’t make sense.”
In Carson City, Trump addressed thousands of supporters who sat elbow to elbow, cheering him and booing Biden and the press.
The vast majority wore no masks to guard against the coronavirus, though cases in the state are on the rise, with more than 1,000 new infections reported Saturday. The Republican president, as he often does, warned that a Biden election would lead to further lockdowns and appeared to mock Biden for saying he would listen to scientists.
“He’ll listen to the scientists. If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression,” Trump said.