Former President Donald Trump blasted “gutless” politicians who have refused to say publicly whether they received a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Trump did not mention Ron DeSantis by name, but the comments are a not-so-veiled reference to the Florida governor, who recently skirted answering whether he’d been boosted.
“I’ve had the booster,” Trump said during an interview with One America News that aired Tuesday evening. “Many politicians — I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get the booster?’ because they had the vaccine. And they’re answering like — in other words, the answer is ‘yes’ but they don’t want to say it. Because they’re gutless. You gotta say it, whether you had it or not. Say it. But the fact is that I think the vaccines saved tens of millions throughout the world. I’ve had absolutely no side-effects.”
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DeSantis, when asked by Fox News in December whether he had received a booster dose, said, “I’ve done whatever I did, the normal shot, and that at the end of the day is people’s individual decisions about what they want to do.” When Florida Politics followed up with DeSantis’ office, Press Secretary Christina Pushaw said she is “not able to speak to his private medical decisions.” DeSantis recieved the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in April, according to the Associated Press.
DeSantis was long considered one of Trump’s closest allies, but the former president seems to have soured on him since he’s been discussed as a possible Republican alternative in 2024. Vanity Fair reported in September that Trump “fucking hates” DeSantis and “resents his popularity.” A month later, Trump dismissed the idea that DeSantis could defeat him in a hypothetical Republican primary. “If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” Trump said.
Trump has broken with his party’s vaccine hesitancy, likely because he views the vaccines as his own personal triumph and “one of the greatest achievements of mankind.” Trump has begged people to give him more credit for the vaccine. “Isn’t it incredible that because of the vaccines, which I and my Administration came up with years ahead of schedule (despite the fact that everybody, including Fauci, said would never happen), that we no longer need masks, and yet our names are not even mentioned in what everybody is calling the modern day miracle of the vaccines?” he wrote in a statement last spring. “Just a mention please!” he wrote later in the statement.
He hasn’t been able to convince many of his supporters, however, and was even booed last month in Dallas for touting the vaccine.
Trump undermines his own argument about the safety and efficacy of vaccines when he opposes mandates, as he did in a Wednesday interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep where he claimed that mandates are “really hurting our country.”
“The vaccines, I recommend taking them, but I think that has to be an individual choice,” the former president said. “I mean, it’s got to be individual, but I recommend taking them. Many people recommend them. And if some people don’t want, they shouldn’t have to take them. They can’t be mandated, as the expression goes. And I think that’s very important.”
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