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Campaign spokesman on Trump calling Fauci an 'idiot': There's 'competing science'

The Trump campaign’s national press secretary is defending the president calling the nation’s top infectious diseases expert an "idiot," saying “there’s competing science” about the virus. 

In an interview on Fox News late Monday, Hogan Gidley was asked if he thought it was a good idea to call Anthony FauciAnthony FauciHarris: 'Of course I will' take COVID-19 vaccine Overnight Health Care: Biden asked Fauci to serve as chief medical adviser | COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo says she won't be Biden's HHS secretary Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter encourage people to take COVID-19 vaccine MORE an idiot, given that states in the Midwest are seeing increasing hospitalization rates due to the coronavirus, and that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE's reelection campaign needs to win states in the region.

Gidley told host Martha MacCallum that Fauci “isn’t the only doctor out there,” and that there’s “competing science on various things.” 

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“It was Dr. Fauci who very early on said we shouldn’t wear masks at all, and then came around and said ‘no, we should wear masks’ after the science changed,” Gidley said. “So, that’s all fair and that’s fine. But, science is meant to be tested and these conversations should be had.” 

Gidley said that there is a way for the country to return to normal in a safe way without shutting down the country, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. 

“We cannot shut things down again,” Gidley said. “I mean, losing millions of jobs, spending trillions of dollars to keep people just afloat ... that’s not a tenable position for this country.” 

“We know that we can do things safely,” he continued. “If we wear masks, if we socially distance, if we use hand sanitizer and all the guidelines that the CDC talks about, we can begin to open up this country and we should.” 

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Gidley also said the president doesn’t regret shutting down the country as early as he did, and claimed that the response prevented millions of deaths. 

“Remember, two and a half million people were projected to die of this virus,” Gidley said. “This president's leadership prevented the spread to the numbers of two and half million people dying.”

During a campaign call with staffearlier  Monday, Trump accused Fauci of providing inconsistent advice about the coronavirus pandemic and claimed that the United States would have “700,000 to 800,000 deaths right now” if he had followed Fauci's advice.

“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots, these people, these people that have gotten it wrong. Fauci is a nice guy, he’s been here for 500 years, he called every one of them wrong,” Trump told campaign staffers.

Fauci responded to Trump the same day, dismissing it as a “distraction.” 

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“I would prefer not to comment on that and just get on with what we are really trying to do and what we are trying to do is to protect the health and welfare and safety of the American people predominantly, and ultimately, of the world," he said during an interview with Southern California AM Radio Station KNX1070. "We are seeing an uptick in cases — higher than they’ve ever been. Many, many states that had been doing reasonably well are now showing upticks, that’s what we should be concentrating on."

He added he doesn't want to create a “me against the president” mentality, calling it unhelpful. 

“[Addressing the virus is] the only thing I really care about. That other stuff, it’s like in 'The Godfather': Nothing personal, strictly business as far as I’m concerned. I just want to do my job and take care of the people of this country,” Fauci added.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Fauci in recent weeks as the election comes closer. Most recently, the two have sparred after Fauci said he was taken out of context in a video clip used in a Trump campaign ad, adding that he did not give his consent for it to be used in the ad. The Trump campaign has defended its inclusion. 

More than 8 million Americans have been infected with the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 220,000 related deaths have also been reported.