With just two weeks left to campaign, President Donald Trump spent much of Monday deriding the nation’s top infectious disease expert, downplaying the Coronavirus outbreak, and broadening his attacks on the moderator of this Thursday’s presidential debate.
In a phone call with his campaign staff - which was seemingly monitored by all sorts of reporters - the President blasted Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Fauci is a disaster,” the President said on the phone call about his administration’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
“If I listened to him, we would have 500,000 deaths,” Mr. Trump added.
On the tarmac in Phoenix before a pair of campaign rallies in Arizona, the President sparred repeatedly with reporters, especially unhappy over continued questions about whether he took a virus test before the first debate.
“Why is that so important to you?” he said to NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell.
The President also slammed NBC White House reporter Kirsten Welker, who will be the moderator for Thursday’s debate, accusing her of being a ‘dyed in the wool, radical left Democrat.’
Reporters immediately objected, further drawing the President’s ire.
“Why are you defending her?” the President asked indignantly.
Later at a rally in Arizona, the President also went after CNN, denouncing its coverage of the Coronavirus outbreak, as Mr. Trump on Monday argued that most Americans are ready to move on with life.
“People aren’t buying it CNN, you dumb bastards,” the President said to loud cheers.
Despite the attacks on Welker, the President said he would be at Thursday’s debate, though his campaign later issued a letter protesting the debate topics picked by Welker, arguing this debate was scheduled to be on foreign policy.
“The topics announced by moderator Kristen Welker (Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership) are serious and worthy of discussion, but only a few of them even touch on foreign policy,” wrote Bill Stepien, the Trump Campaign chief.
But while the final debate is usually focused on foreign policy, there was no public document which indicate that was the only topic allowed.
A news release from June summarized this final debate in simple terms: “The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate.”