White Home retains Trump at arm’s size in COVID-19 vaccine push


The White House isn’t urging former President Donald Trump to help get vaccine shots into arms as it confronts an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country, including in states where Trump allies said he could help.

While press secretary Jen Psaki credited South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican and Trump ally, for his advocacy, the White House has proven less keen to embrace the former president himself.

“The former president has said he got the vaccine. He said people should get it. And if he wants to do that more, then good for him. That’s good,” Psaki told reporters on Thursday.

“This is not political to us, nor should it be political, and certainly Sen. Graham has a constituency, and we think it’s great that he’s out there talking about the impact of the vaccine even while we wish him a speedy recovery,” she said.

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Confronting a rapid uptick in new cases, the White House has lately stepped up criticism of Republican leaders who have relaxed COVID-19 restrictions while praising others.

“The majority of Republican governors are doing exactly the right thing in their states … either working with the federal government on resources we can provide, encouraging vaccination, encouraging masking,” Psaki said.

Her remarks come after President Joe Biden this week accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, of “standing in the way” of the federal government’s efforts.

“What we’ve seen in poll after poll is that the most trusted voices are people in communities, not necessarily elected officials, so it’s a net positive for elected officials to be out there talking about the efficacy of the vaccine, the fact that they’re vaccinated,” Psaki said.

Psaki was asked about Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, praising the Trump administration’s vaccine push during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We give credit to the Trump administration” for Operation Warp Speed, which led to the development of COVID-19 vaccines, Fauci said Thursday.

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The veteran health official has often credited the effort. Still, to boost vaccination rates, Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican, said Fauci should make the tie to Trump more explicit.

Psaki said Biden had often touted efforts to develop the shot under Trump.

“The president not only talked about the role of the last administration in getting the vaccine approved during the transition, but he talked about it just last week,” she said. “I wouldn’t say we’re shying away from talking about the fact that it was a vaccine that was approved during, some of the vaccines, I should say, approved during a Republican administration and the implementation, an effort to get it in the arms of people, during a Democratic administration.”

Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were vaccinated soon after the shots became available. But each also cast doubt on the speed of vaccine development under Trump, drawing attention to a concern that has become a sticking point among vaccine skeptics.

In an interview last year, Biden pointed to “the enormous pressure being put on the FDA” by former officials to speed up vaccine availability and wondered aloud about the hazards of being first in line.

“When we finally do, God willing, get a vaccine, who’s going to take the shot? Who’s going to take the shot? You going to be the first one to say, ‘Put me — sign me up, they now say it’s OK’? I’m not being facetious,” the president said.

During a vice presidential debate, Harris was asked if she would receive a vaccine approved before the election. She responded, “If Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”

While still a relatively bright spot for the president, recent polls show voters growing critical of Biden’s handling of the pandemic.

A CNBC survey published this week showed Biden’s approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus fell nine percentage points from 62% in April to 53%.

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A Wednesday Quinnipiac poll showed 53% of people approved of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, dropping from 65% in May.

Biden’s overall approval ratings show less movement. CNBC’s survey puts the president at 48% approval, up 1 point since the first quarter. However, his disapproval numbers grew from 41% to 45%. Quinnipiac’s poll has Biden at 46%, down from 49% in May, while his disapproval rating increased to 43% from 41%.

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Tags: News, Biden Administration, White House, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Delta Variant, Coronavirus, Vaccination

Original Author: Katherine Doyle

Original Location: ‘Good for him’: White House keeps Trump at arm’s length in COVID-19 vaccine push

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