Former President Donald Trump went out of his way to knock down anti-vaccine talking points after conservative host Candace Owens asked him about vaccine mandates, Axios reports.
Owens served Trump a softball question to allow him to criticize vaccine mandates. Trump agreed that vaccine mandates infringe on people’s “freedom” but declined to go further and instead touted the benefits of the shot.
“I came up with three vaccines — all are very, very good,” Trump said, even though the vaccines were developed by researchers at pharmaceutical firms.
“And yet more people have died under COVID this year, by the way, under Joe Biden than under you,” Owens replied. “And more people took the vaccine this year, so people are questioning how –”
“Oh no,” Trump interjected. “The vaccine worked. But some people aren't taking it. The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take the vaccine.”
“But it’s still their choice, and if you take the vaccine, you're protected,” he added. “Look the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get it, it's a very minor form. People aren't dying when they take the vaccine."
Trump rebrands as booster advocate:
Trump, who has occasionally sent mixed signals about the vaccines as his supporters report much lower vaccination rates than the rest of the country, drew boos from supporters during a recent event with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
The audience booed when Trump said that he got his booster shot.
"Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't," Trump said, trying to quiet the jeers. "That's all right, it's a very tiny group over there."
Trump told the audience that they are “playing right into their hands” when they dismiss the vaccines and don’t take credit for them.
"Look, we did something that was historic, we saved tens of millions of lives worldwide. We, together, all of us, not me," he said. "Take credit for it. Take credit for it. It's great. What we've done is historic. Don't let them take it away. Don't take it away from ourselves. You are playing right into their hands when you sort of like, 'oh, the vaccine.' If you don't want to take it, you shouldn't be forced to take it. No mandates. But take credit, because we saved tens of millions of lives. Take credit. Don't let them take that away from you."
Trump and Biden synergy:
Trump’s vaccine talking points earned him some rare praise from the White House.
“Just going to echo former President Trump here on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines,” tweeted White House press secretary Jen Psaki after the Owens interview.
Biden gave Trump credit during an earlier speech in the week.
"I got my booster shot as soon as they were available and just the other day former President Trump announced he had gotten his booster shot,” Biden said. "It may be one of the few things he and I agree on. People with booster shots are highly protected. Join them. Join us."
Trump told Fox News he was “surprised” and “appreciative” of Biden’s comments.
"It is a little tough to be overly critical now because he just thanked us for the vaccine and thanked me for what I did," Trump said. "You know, that's a first — so it is very tough for me to be overly critical now."