Donald Trump told his supporters on Tuesday, many of whom he acknowledge are hostile to the idea of vaccines, that they should still get vaccinated against Covid.
“I would recommend it,” he told Maria Bartiromo of Fox News, in one of his first interviews since leaving office. “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 agree with that also.”
“But it’s a great vaccine, it’s a safe vaccine and it’s something that works,” he added.
Mr Trump and former first lady Melania Trump were both vaccinated in January, but didn’t reveal that fact to the public until March, after the former president had left office. At the CPAC political conference, Mr Trump said, “Everyone should go get your shot,” and The New York Times later confirmed he had been vaccinated.
Still, recent polling reveals there’s a stark partisan divide when it comes to getting the jab. According to a recent CBS poll, Republicans were more than three times as likely as Democrats to say they won’t be getting vaccinated.
President Biden has said getting buy-in from prominent community members like doctors and faith leaders is more important than support from his predecessor.
“I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA [Make America Great Again] folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say,” he said on Monday at the White House.
The former president has been uncommonly quiet since the Biden administration began, but during his conversation on Fox, he opened up on a number of issues, railing against the new president’s immigration agenda, not committing to running for president again in 2024, and insisting, as he often has, that he hasn’t gotten enough credit for his efforts to develop the coronavirus vaccine.
“It’s really saving our country, and really saving the world,” he said.
Additionally, he repeated his false claim that pharmaceutical companies waited to announce the development of a Covid vaccine until after the November election, and also argued that a Covid vaccine would’ve “never happened” without his urging.
“They wanted to announce it sometime after the election,” Mr Trump said. “I think most people knew that we pretty much had the vaccine.”
The subject of the border, and Mr Biden’s immigration agenda was a major topic as well. The ex-president argued that his policies were “working better than they’ve ever seen” at the border, whereas Mr Biden’s immigration agenda was responsible for the recent influx in young border-crossers.
“They’re destroying our country,” Mr Trump said. “They leave their homes and come up because they think it’s going to be so wonderful but our country can’t handle it.”
The Trump administration, through policies like cuts to asylum, the so-called “Remain in Mexico” protocol, and an order locking down the border over coronavirus, never ended the difficulties at US-Mexico boundary line, but shifted many of them onto the Mexico side.
The former president, who was a fixture in New York tabloids for decades before entering politics, couldn’t resist commenting on Meghan Markle’s recent interview with Oprah. He said he hoped she was considering a presidential bid, as some have recently reported, because he believed he could defeat her.
“Well I hope that happens because if that happened I think I’d have an even stronger feeling toward running,” Mr Trump said.
“I’m not a fan of hers,” he added. “I think that what she talks about the Royal family and the Queen, and I happen to think, I know the Queen as you know, I met with the Queen and I think the Queen is a tremendous person and I am not a fan of Meghan.”