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Fauci faces Republican backlash, while Kennedy poses a challenge for Trump

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The battle between former President Donald Trump and independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is heating up, with Kennedy gaining traction by attacking Trump’s Covid-19 policies. Kennedy has accused Trump of “inventing lockdowns” and questioned the safety of the Covid vaccine developed during Trump’s administration. Trump, in turn, has tried to distance himself from Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key figure in the Covid response who Trump now downplays as not being a major player in his administration.

During a recent House hearing, Republicans attacked Fauci, with some going as far as to say he belongs in prison for his handling of the pandemic. Kennedy has aligned himself with these views, questioning why Fauci is not in jail under President Joe Biden. This strategy of using Fauci to drive a wedge between Trump and his base is not new, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also tried to utilize Fauci to attack Trump during the GOP primary.

Despite facing challenges to get on the ballot in every state, Kennedy’s campaign is resonating with some disillusioned voters. Polling shows that Republicans are open to Kennedy’s views on vaccines and Covid, leading some to switch their support from Trump to Kennedy. Trump, in response, has ramped up his attacks on Kennedy, calling him an “extreme liberal” and a “fake anti-vaxxer.” Trump’s shifting stance on vaccines, from initially taking credit for Operation Warp Speed to now criticizing vaccine mandates, reflects the polarizing nature of the Covid response issue within the GOP.

As Kennedy continues to gain momentum, Trump is facing a dilemma on how to address the growing threat to his base of support. Kennedy’s criticisms of Trump’s Covid policies, combined with attacks on Fauci, resonate with some Republican voters who feel misled by the former president’s handling of the pandemic. The upcoming election cycle will be crucial in determining whether Trump can overcome this challenge and retain the loyalty of his base amid growing dissatisfaction with his Covid response.

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