Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is confident about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s medical expertise after consistent attacks from Republicans, and urged GOP men to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
During an event Monday encouraging vaccination, the Senate Minority Leader again referenced the polling showing hesitancy from Republican men and said they should all be getting the vaccines because they’re safe and effective.
Before being asked if he still has “total confidence” in Fauci, McConnell was first answering questions about Biden administration’s infrastructure bill.
Minority Leader McConnell expresses confidence in Dr. Fauci: “I think he’s the principal person we’ve relied on the last couple of years, that’s become somewhat controversial, I gather. But, we have to take advice from somebody and…he’s the most reliable witness I’ve seen.” pic.twitter.com/wZvoDJCvZ1
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 5, 2021
“I think he’s the principal person we’ve relied on for the last couple of years. That’s become somewhat controversial, I gather,” McConnell responded, “but we have to take advice from somebody, and for myself, looking at his history and background, he’s the most reliable witness I’ve seen.”
Fauci has been criticized and attacked by some Republican senators, including Rand Paul, who tried to mock his mask-wearing in a recent hearing.
After Fauci argued that his position on masks is about “variants,” Paul asked him to cite a single study in the United States showing reinfection and hospitalization after vaccination; Fauci could not cite one. Paul, a physician, concluded that mask-wearing after vaccination was simple theater:
You’ve been vaccinated and you parade around in two masks for show. You can’t get it again. There’s virtually 0% chance you’re gonna get it, and yet you’re telling people that have had the vaccine, that have immunity — you’re defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear masks that have been vaccinated. Instead you should be saying there is no science to say we’re going to have a problem from the large number of people who’ve been vaccinated. You want to get rid of vaccine hesitancy? Wearing masks after they get the vaccine? You want people to get the vaccine? Give them a reward instead of telling them that the nanny state is going to be there for three more years and you gotta wear a mask forever. People don’t want to hear it; there’s no science behind it.
“Let me state just for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective,” Fauci replied.
“If you have immunity they’re theater. If you already have immunity, you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others, you’re not wearing a mask because of any science,” Paul shot back.
At an event in Kentucky, McConnell was asked if he still had “total” confidence in Fauci – the top infectious disease expert in the US and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.
“I think he’s the principal person we’ve relied on the last couple of years, that’s become somewhat controversial, I gather,” McConnell said of Fauci. “But, we have to take advice from somebody and … he’s the most reliable witness I’ve seen.”
Fauci, who’s advised seven presidents, has been one of the most trusted voices in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But he’s also been the target of attacks from top Republicans on a number of occasions, a trend that has escalated in recent weeks. Former President Donald Trump frequently went after Fauci and contradicted his medical advice, and many of Trump’s top allies have followed suit.
Fauci was recently called on by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to visit the US-Mexico border to witness what he described as the nation’s “biggest super spreader event.” This came amid escalating Republican criticism of Biden’s handling of a historic number of migrant arrivals at the border.