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Trumps tells Florida supporters he’ll wait ‘a little bit after election' to fire Fauci

President Donald Trump arrives at his campaign rally at Opa-Locka Executive Airport, late Sunday night.
President Donald Trump arrives at his campaign rally at Opa-Locka Executive Airport, late Sunday night. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – President Donal Trump ended a long day of campaigning Sunday shortly before midnight, appearing before South Florida supporters chanting “Fire Fauci." He said he appreciated their advice, “Don’t tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election."

Trump expressed frustration that the surging cases of the virus that has killed more than 231,000 people in the United States this year remain prominent in the news.

Trump’s latest comments on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is on Trump’s own health task force, came after the infectious diseases expert said Sunday, “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt.”

It’s the most direct Trump has been in suggesting he was serious about trying to remove Fauci from his position. He has previously expressed that he was concerned about the political blowback of removing the popular and respected doctor before Election Day.

Trump’s aggressive approach to Fauci carries some risks this close to Election Day,

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in September showed 68% of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in Fauci to provide reliable information on the coronavirus. That compares with 52% of Americans who trusted Biden to do that and just 40% for Trump.

A record number of votes have already been cast in Florida and across America through early voting or mail-in ballots, which could lead to delays in their tabulation. Trump has spent months claiming without evidence that the votes would be ripe for fraud while refusing to guarantee that he would honor the election result.

In the starkest terms yet, Trump on Sunday threatened litigation to stop the tabulation of ballots arriving after Election Day. As soon as polls closed in battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania, Trump said, “we’re going in with our lawyers.”

It was unclear precisely what Trump meant. There is already an appeal pending at the Supreme Court over the counting of absentee ballots in Pennsylvania that are received in the mail in the three days after the election.

The state’s top court ordered the extension and the Supreme Court refused to block it, though conservative justices expressed interest in taking up the propriety of the three added days after the election. Those ballots are being kept separate in case the litigation goes forward. The issue could assume enormous importance if the late-arriving ballots could tip the outcome.

During the late Sunday night event at the Opa-Locka Executive Airport, Trump urged his supporters to get out and vote in Miami-Dade, a county he lost in 2016, despite winning Florida.

He also spoke about the coronavirus pandemic, and his messaging has been the same over the last few days, with the president saying we are “rounding the corner.”

As for Sunday’s rally, Democrats slammed the president for holding what they called a potential super-spreaders event.

Mayor and congressional candidate Carlos Gimenez, a Trump ally, said fliers were handed out about COVID-19 safety.

One of the first people in line for Sunday night’s rally was Stuart Sawyer. He drove four hours from his home in Sumpter County to be at the front of the line to see President Trump, arriving in South Florida before 6 a.m.

“This is my seventh event this month: two in North Carolina, four in Florida. I am just super excited to see the president again,” Sawyer told WPLG-TV. “I think the polls are designed to suppress how people feel, so don’t believe the polls. I think we’re going to look at another 2016 and Donald Trump is going to be president and he’s going to win Florida.”

Reliably Republican Cuban-American supporters showed up earlier on Sunday at Cafe Versailles in Little Havana, and a large crowd showed up for a caravan at Tropical Park.

Many people registered for Sunday’s event through the Trump 2020 app on their phones.

Event organizers warned that anybody who went to the event was assuming the risk of being possibly exposed to COVID-19 and must agree not to hold the president liable for getting sick. Organizers set up metal barricades and white tents to form a walking path, and portable toilets were brought in as well.

Trump’s campaign called Sunday’s event a Make America Great Again victory rally.

The rally was Trump’s eighth campaign stop in a whirlwind, two-day blitz of battleground states.

There was concern Sunday night’s event would conflict with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez' midnight countywide curfew. Sunday afternoon, the mayor’s office released an update on the rally, saying, in part:

“Miami-Dade County has confirmed with the RNC ... that the outdoor event will begin at 9:30 p.m. Sunday and is expected to end before midnight.”

During the event, the president urged his supporters to get out and vote in Miami-Dade, a county he lost in 2016, despite winning Florida.

He also spoke about the coronavirus pandemic, and his messaging has been the same over the last few days, with the president saying we are “rounding the corner.”

Event organizers warned that anybody who went to the event was assuming the risk of being possibly exposed to COVID-19 and must agree not to hold the president liable for getting sick. Organizers set up metal barricades and white tents to form a walking path, and portable toilets were brought in as well.


About the Authors:

Madeleine Wright is a general assignment reporter for Local 10 News. She joined the team in March 2017.