President Donald Trump’s decision to tell the world that he took hydroxychloroquine during the coronavirus pandemic triggered the kind of anxiety and backlash one would expect for a treatment that packs the chance of getting deadly side effects.
But the medical concerns were not as troublesome for some long-shot Republican congressional candidates, who seize the opportunity to use Trump’s embrace of the drug for himself as a way to show his allegiance to the president.
“.@realDonaldTrump Taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus is a kick-ass move that proves why he is the bravest and strongest of all US presidents, “James P. Bradley, a Republican U.S. House candidate in California, Tweeted.
“You have to be extremely naive to think that none of these Democrats are knocking @POTUS also takes hydroxychloroquine as a preventative, ” Errol Webber, a California GOP congressional candidate, tweeted after Trump proclaimed taking the drug.
In an interview, Lauren Boebert, a Republican congressional candidate in Colorado on the right of GOP incumbent Scott Tipton, criticized those who were quick to oppose the treatment.
“With the way the media hates President Trump, if taking hydroxychloroquine was really bad for him, they would encourage it rather than have a soot,” Boebert tweeted on May 20.
Neither Bradley, Webber nor Boebert are taking the drug, they told The Daily Beast.
“No, I’m not taking it,” Bradley said in an email. “But if I were to get the virus, I would first contact my doctor and have no fear if it was prescribed for me. “
“I’m not in the danger zone for coronavirus,” Boebert added, before saying she stood with the president and his “medical freedom.”
But other Republicans have been happy to talk about taking the drug during the pandemic.
In Congress, two sitting chamber members also promoted in their media interviews their own experience of the drug, including Roger Marshall. The Kansas doctor is running in a crowded U.S. Senate that is primary in the reliable red state and looks to win over longtime Trump supporter Kris Kobach.
He told Wall Street Journal earlier this week that he and his family members took the drug prophylactically.
“I would encourage all people over 65 or with an underlying medical condition to talk to their own doctor about taking hydroxychloroquine and I am relieved that President Trump is taking it,” Marshall told Newspaper.
Hydroxychloroquine was an early favorite of Trumps during the March pandemic, but as concerns over the drug grew, Trump seemed to be more subdued. At the end of April, Trump’s own food and drug administration warned that “hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective in treating or preventing COVID-19.”
Since then, research on the drug has continued to be worrying. A new study published Friday by Lancet also failed to show a “benefit of hydroxychloroquine” in COVID-19, and more alarmingly described “a greater risk of death in COVID-19 hospitals.”
A conspiracy-minded approach to the issue came from Josh Barnett, an Arizona GOP challenger in the state’s deeply Democratic Seventh District whose chances of getting to the House are slim.
he tweeted: “If hydroxychloroquine is sooooo dangerous, why are the Democrats so against @realDonaldTrump? Do they suddenly care about him and his health? LOL NO! That’s because it works and they don’t want anything to fix Covid and take back this economy. ”
Rarely one to stay away from such concerns, Trump has also promoted ideas about other treatments of the pandemic that struck the heart of medical professionals, including a very malignant April lettering where he was considering injecting disinfectants or blasting the body with ultraviolet light.
The statements by GOP congressional candidates worried Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, who said “maybe they see this as somehow increasing their options by supporting these abusive statements and actions by the president.”
“If this is their campaign, I feel sorry for their district,” Redlener said. “These are people who should not have a public office. To help the president make these horrible public decisions about taking unindicated and potentially dangerous drugs, if this is all they have to prove their loyalty to the president or their affiliation with the president, then I am sorry to hear that they are running. ”
The medical movement of the country’s leaders has also become part of some Democrats’ campaign rhetoric, but in a very different way.
“The president claims he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, a discredited drug he has been doing as a miracle drug, for several weeks,” tweeted John Lesinski, a Democratic congressman in Virginia. “Is he really? Who knows. Who cares. It is yet another thing that he is wasting our time on while we have no national plan to approach this pandemic. ”
Medical experts have lamented how the policy has been intertwined by public health during the coronavirus pandemic. And the controversy surrounding hydroxychloroquine has only made those feelings more tense as the country reopens from the pandemic and the country’s death toll continues to increase.
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, professor of medicine and public health at UCLA, said he is not surprised that people defend their party or president but added that “people have to look at the science and the data.”
“There are people’s lives at stake, so it is dangerous to support your team against the medical evidence,” Klausner said.