The White House Biden said it did not ask Trump to broadcast messages in favor of vaccines. And Trump was not invited to sit on the Ad Council PSA which featured former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, according to a staff member of one of the former presidents involved in the ad and several advisers. of Trump. Planning for the commercial began in December and was filmed on the day of Biden’s inauguration. At this point, Trump had made it clear that he would not be staying in Washington for the festivities. Notably, however, the council shot another commercial with past presidents and first ladies, and included Jimmy Carter who was unable to make it to the inauguration.
When Trump made public statements encouraging vaccination, they were rare and sandwiched between political statements, endorsements of potential MAGA 2020 candidates, and attacks on the small group of Republicans who supported his impeachment.
In an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News, he recommended the shot – but then acknowledged that people have a right to refuse it.
“I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people who don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me frankly. But again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I also agree with that, ”Trump said in March. “But it’s a great vaccine, and it’s a safe vaccine, and it’s something that works.”
In his first statement after the J&J hiatus, Trump accused the FDA of playing politics, trying to help Pfizer, the maker of a different vaccine, and intentionally delaying vaccine approval after the election presidential election of 2020.
“They didn’t like me very much because I pushed them really hard. But if I didn’t, you wouldn’t have a vaccine for 3-5 years, or maybe not at all, ”he said. “The only way to beat the Chinese virus is to use our excellent vaccines!”
Some former Trump administration officials have said they haven’t given up on it by deciding to ring more systematically, especially if it puts it back in the public eye. They note that he is extremely proud of Operation Warp Speed, the $ 10 billion private-public partnership that has helped more than 200 million doses of vaccines to be developed, tested and licensed. at record speeds by pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Others argue he could do more, bristling at the idea that he has been anything but engaged in promoting immunization.
“President Trump has been a consistent leader and an important voice – and has advocated for the production, development and use of the vaccine early and often, taking it and asking others to get vaccinated as well.” said Kellyanne Conway.
And Trump’s senior adviser Jason Miller said the former president “will continue to push people to get vaccinated.”
But few followers beyond Trump believe he has been an aggressive and hungry promoter of vaccinations. And without Trump in the lead, other prominent Republicans were left to take over. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, tweeted a photo of her vaccination last Wednesday (and was pushed into the comments section of the anti-vax corner of the world MAGA), RNC President Ronna McDaniel shared news of her vaccination , and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly called on the public to get vaccinated. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), who heads the House Doctors Caucus, doesn’t just champion the vaccine; he returns home to Ohio and administers injections – in one case, he said, on a bus full of seniors, mostly low-income, who had traveled for their injections.
And last week, House Republicans welcomed its newest member, Julia Letlow of Louisiana, to Congress. Letlow, who lost her husband, Congresswoman Luke Letlow, to Covid-19 before he could take office, called on those vaccine-skeptical Republicans to reflect on his own family’s experience.
But Trump’s relative silence on that front is remarkable, other Republicans say. And without it, it could prolong the vaccination campaign and the fight against the virus as well.
“He could make a real impact and not by getting the standard public service ad but by speaking to his people like he speaks to his people,” said former Republican congressman Peter King, who advised that Trump is making a personal appeal to his supporters in a unique way. He even suggested a scenario the former president could use: “” Believe me, I wouldn’t take this thing, I wouldn’t put my own health at risk if I didn’t think it was necessary, “said King, mimicking a potential Trump vaccine sales pitch. “Do it in a conversational way, but in a wise way.” You think I’d let my daughter get it if I didn’t think it was. Was it sure? … Just because Fauci is for that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. “
“I think it would serve a real purpose,” King said.
Sam Stein contributed to this report.