President Joe Biden discussed with senior advisers about asking former President Donald Trump to push the vaccine to his supporters who have been skeptical of it, Biden told reporters Monday.
Biden made the announcement in response to a shouted question after giving remarks on the rollout of his American Rescue Plan at the White House on Monday. Polls have shown that large numbers of Republican men in particular are skeptical of taking COVID-19 vaccines. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week that a Democratic White House is not the ideal messenger to reach the demographic, but Biden says reaching out to Trump is not necessary.
“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, the local preacher, what the local people in the community say,” Biden argued. “So I urge all local docs and ministers and priests to talk about why it’s important to get that vaccine.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier Monday that the White House would support Trump if he chose to start pushing the vaccine. She added that past presidents do not “need an engraved invitation” to publicly urge Americans to get vaccinated and noted a recent vaccine public service announcement featuring former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“He may decide he should do that if so, great,” she said Monday. “There are a lot of different ways to engage.” (RELATED: Trump Makes Surprise Appearance At Sarah Huckabee Sanders Campaign Event)
“If former President Trump woke up tomorrow and wanted to be more vocal about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine certainly we’d support that,” she continued.
The White House dodged questions earlier in March when asked about potentially enlisting Trump’s help on vaccine outreach to skeptical Republicans.
“We’ve seen, obviously, a lot of the same information,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Andy Slavitt told reporters after it was revealed that Trump secretly received his vaccine before leaving office. “We are engaged with stakeholder groups across racial and ethnic minorities, rural Americans, to reach young Americans; all of those are important. Our whole perspective is leave nobody behind.”
“We don’t think that this is about political identity,” he continued. “So we are targeting specific groups with conversations and answering questions that people have and those questions may differ based on where you live or how you identify, but this is not, nor should it ever become something that is a question of politics.”
While Trump has not participated in any publish vaccination push, he has always spoken of the vaccines in positive terms and argued that his administration should be credited for their development.
“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful “shot” for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all,” Trump said in a statement March 10. “I hope everyone remembers!”