President Biden dismissed the notion that former President Donald Trump holds greater influence to convince “MAGA folks” who are skeptical of the COVID vaccine to get inoculated, arguing that “local doctors” and other people in communities have “more impact” than anything his predecessor has to say.
Following brief remarks at the White House Monday to kick off his week-long promotional blitz for the $1.9 trillion COVID relief law the president recently signed last Thursday, Biden responded to a shouted question regarding whether he felt Trump “should help” his administration in promoting the vaccine among Republican skeptics.
“Should President Trump help promote the vaccine among skeptics,” a reporter shouted the question to Biden.
“I’m hearing a lot of reports from serious reporters like you saying that. I discussed it with my team and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say,” Biden said in response.
“So I urge all local docs and ministers and priests to talk about why, why it’s important to get that vaccine, and even after that, until everyone is in fact vaccinated, to wear this mask,” Biden added.
Biden’s comments appear to be at odds with what his chief medical expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci just said a day prior where he publicly urged Trump to tell his supporters to get inoculated. A recent NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll showed that 47 percent of Republicans don’t plan to get one of the three federally approved coronavirus vaccines, with 49 percent of those being Republican men. During one of his Sunday morning show appearances, Fauci said he wishes Trump would use his influence over supporters to encourage them to get the vaccine, saying it would “be a game-changer.”
“I think it would make all the difference in the world. He’s a very wildly popular person among Republicans,” Fauci said on Fox News Sunday. “If he came out and said go and get vaccinated… It seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him.”
“The fact that you had a program that was started during his [presidency] and he’s not out telling people to get vaccinated I wish he would, he has such an incredible influence over people in the Republican Party, it would really be a game-changer if he did,” Fauci added.
Earlier during White House Press Briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if Biden agrees with Fauci’s remarks made on Fox News Sunday and if he “wants to see Trump get involved in this messaging.”
“Well, if former President Trump woke up tomorrow and wanted to be more vocal about the safety and efficacy of the campaign of the vaccine, certainly we’d support that,” Psaki said, arguing that former presidents PSA campaign “did not need an engraved invitation” to get involved in the vaccine messaging.
“But also, I think what’s important to note is that as I noted, 81% of Republicans said they would trust their own doctor or healthcare provider, and that’s an important place to invest. So [Trump] may decide he should do that. If so, great. But there are a lot of different ways to engage, to reach out, to ensure that people have a range of political support and backing, know the vaccine is safe and effective,” Psaki added.
Psaki mentioned that the Biden White House is hosting an event on Tuesday to “reach out to boost Republican receptivity to the vaccine,” featuring both Fauci and NIH Director Dr. Collins discussing those efforts with evangelical leaders.
When pressed if having Fauci “the face of the people that many of these voters don’t trust” would be a “waste of time,” Psaki appeared frustrated by the question inquiry and blew off the reporter saying, “I just answered this exact question earlier with some of the specific steps.”
However, at the White House press briefing last Friday, Psaki did concede that Biden was not the best messenger to convince “hardcore” Trump supporters to get inoculated.
“We are not always the best messengers here, a Democratic administration — to communicate to everyone in the public about the safety, the efficacy, and the importance of taking the vaccine,” Psaki admitted Friday. “We recognize as a Democratic administration with a Democratic president that we may not be the most effective messenger to communicate with hardcore supporters of the former president, and we have to be clear-eyed about that.”
A recent public service announcement featuring all living former presidents and their wives calling on Americans to get inoculated. However, the PSA doesn’t feature Trump, the only former president to have led the effort with Operation Warp Speed in cultivating the conditions for the creation of three vaccines in record time, that all his predecessors are touting in the ad.
While Trump did not appear in the PSA campaign, the former president did urge the public to get vaccinated during his first remark post-White House at CPAC late last month.
“But remember, we took care of a lot of people, including, I guess on December 21st, we took care of Joe Biden. Cause he got his shot. He got his vaccine. He forgot. It shows you how un-painful all that vaccine shot is. So everybody go get your shot,” Trump said in his CPAC remarks.