Biden isn’t waiting for Trump’s help to persuade MAGA supporters to get vaccinated

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration isn’t waiting for help from former President Donald Trump to persuade his followers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“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 preacher, what the local people in the community say,” President Joe Biden said Monday.

His comments follow a recent PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll that found the top groups against getting a vaccine are Republican men and Trump supporters.

About 4 in 10 Republicans said they would not get one of the three federally approved coronavirus vaccines, compared with less than 15% of Democrats.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said it “would make all the difference in the world” if Trump would participate in a vaccination campaign aimed at his followers. 

“He’s such a strongly popular person. I cannot imagine that if he comes out that they would not get vaccinated,” Fauci said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It would be very helpful to the effort for that to happen.”

But polls also show that most Republicans trust their own doctor or health care provider, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

“If former President Trump woke up tomorrow and wanted to be more vocal about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, certainly we support that,” she said. “But there are a lot of different ways to engage, to reach out, to ensure that people of a range of political support and backing know the vaccine is safe and effective.”

President Joe Biden puts on a face covering as he concludes his remarks in the State Dining Room of the White House on March 15, 2021. (Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

She said administration officials are working with conservative groups, faith leaders and others with a strong voice in rural America. 

That includes NASCAR, the County Music Association, the National Rural Health Association, the National Farmers Union and NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association.

Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, will be talking with evangelical leaders Tuesday on how to partner with them.

In an interview this month with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Collins spoke as “a scientist who is also a Christian.”

“This is an answer to a lot of prayers,” Collins said of the vaccines.

The White House tweeted out Monday a public service announcement featuring all the living former presidents except Trump encouraging people to get vaccinated.

“Four presidents. Two political parties. One clear message: Get vaccinated when it’s available to you,” the White House tweeted.

That ad wasn’t persuasive to a recent focus group of vaccine-hesitant Trump voters, according to The Washington Post. But the group also wasn’t keen on hearing from Trump, indicating messaging from someone outside of the political realm would be more effective.

Biden, on Monday, urged “all local docs and ministers and priests to talk about why, why it’s important to get that vaccine.”

“And even after that,” he continued, “until everyone is in fact vaccinated, to wear this mask.”

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