Republican politicians have ratcheted up their anger at top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci following comments he made over the weekend, The Hill reported.
Fauci told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that Republicans who try to politicize the coronavirus crisis and criticize him are “really criticizing science, because I represent science.” Those remarks were slammed by many in the GOP.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has repeatedly feuded with Fauci at public hearings over the past several years, said that “it’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing,” The Hill reported.
Fellow GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, added that Fauci’s comments were “just another example of how these bureaucrats think that they are the science, that they represent the epitome of knowledge” and insisted that “Tony Fauci is nothing more than a Democratic operative.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has led all Republican in the frequency with which he has attacked Fauci since the interview, having sent out well over 20 tweets on the issue.
Some Republicans have long been concerned that the attacks by their colleagues could undermine trust in public health officials in general, with Utah Sen. Mitt Romney saying that “a lot of politics today is performance politics, which is saying things which excite the bases of our respective parties,” The Hill reported.
Romney added that “I look at Dr. Fauci as an expert in disease and viruses [and] respect his point of view. He’s not perfect; like all humans he will make mistakes. Politicizing him is just par for the course these days in our highly politicized environment, but I respect him as a scientist.”
Other Senate Republicans have expressed agreement with Romney’s sentiment, with Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt saying, “I think everybody’s had a really challenging job with a virus that we are still struggling to understand, and both the data and the science appear to be constantly changing so everybody in those discussions can easily find themselves in a tough place.”
Blunt, who is the ranking Republican on the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittee, added, “I’ve known him a long time and I like him, and I’ve admired his work with vaccines.”
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