A clearly exasperated Jen Psaki on Friday refused to give the Trump administration credit for its work on the COVID vaccine and also admitted Joe Biden wasn’t the best person to convince ‘hardcore’ supporters of Donald Trump to get a shot in the arm.
The White House press secretary was asked repeatedly about the work of Trump and Operation Warp Speed on the pandemic and she was pressed on why there wasn’t more outreach to skeptics of the vaccine, many of whom are also supporters of the former president.
‘Let me try this again,’ she said at one point during Friday’s briefing when she was pushed again and again on the matter.
Conservatives expressed outrage Thursday night when President Biden didn’t mention President Trump by name nor credit the work of Operation Warp Speed in the development of a COVID vaccine during his primetime address to the nation.
Psaki defended Biden and pointedly said he’s praised the work of scientists in the Trump era.
‘The president has spoken to it in the past. He has applauded the work of medical experts and scientists and the prior administration,’ she said.
A clearly exasperated Jen Psaki on Friday refused to give the Trump administration credit for its work on the COVID vaccine
Conservatives were furious when President Joe Biden didn’t mention Operation Warp Speed or President Trump in his address to the nation on Thursday night
She argued the ‘purpose’ of Biden’s prime time address was to talk about his own administration – ‘what he has done since he took office, the progress that’s been made, what the work is ahead, provide a light at the end of the tunnel and ask Americans to engage in the process.’
A reporter pressed Psaki on Biden’s speech, asking: ‘Why not just say, with credit to the previous administration and the former president for putting us in this position, we are glad that we have been able to move it forward?’
Psaki dismissed the question as an ‘excellent recommendation as a speechwriter.’
She then got a shot at Trump supporters, saying Americans are looking for facts and details about the battle against the virus.
‘I don’t think they’re worrying too much about applause from six months ago,’ she said.
Biden and many medical experts were critical of President Trump for not wearing a face mask in public and for referring to COVID-19 as the ‘China virus’ – a racist moniker. The Trump administration argued Americans have a right to decide whether or not to wear a face mask.
But the Trump Administration established Operation Warp Speed last April to facilitate and accelerate the development of a vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine, which was first out of the gate, was developed privately. But the Moderna vaccine, which like Pfizer is extremely effective, got assistance from Trump’s Operation Warp Speed and were developed during his administration.
During his speech, Biden noted his administration brought about the collaboration of two pharmaceutical companies, Johnson and Johnson and Merck, to speed up vaccine manufacturing of the J&J one-shot vaccine.
But the Washington Post reported on Thursday that the deal between the companies was initiated by Trump officials, according to four Trump administration officials.
And, The New York Times, in an article this week, declared: ‘Both administrations deserve credit, although neither wants to grant much to the other.’
Some news organizations reported Trump administration should get more credit for its COVID vaccine work and Donald Trump has expressed frustration he’s not getting it
But now the Biden White House, as part of its goal to have the country on the road to normal by July 4th, needs to get shots in the arms of Americans – including those skeptics of the vaccine.
Biden said there will be enough doses of the vaccine for every adult American by end of May and, he announced in his speech Thursday night, all adult Americans will be eligible to get the vaccine as of May 1.
He argued that if adults get vaccinated and people continuing to wear face masks and social distance then there can be small gatherings by Fourth of July.
‘If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together by July Fourth there’s a good chance you and families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or barbecue and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn’t mean large events, with lots of people together but it does mean small groups will be able to get together,’ he said.
‘After this long hard year that will make this Independence Day something truly special where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.’
But about 1 in 3 Americans say they definitely or probably won’t get inoculated, according to a February AP-NORC poll. They expressed doubts about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
Psaki conceded the Biden White House is not the best messenger to convince them to get inoculated but pointed out Republican President George W. Bush took part in two public service announcements to convince Americans to get their shot. But Trump, notably, didn’t take part in the videos, which featured all the other living former presidents.
‘I guess what I’m trying to say, but maybe not clearly enough, is that we recognize as a Democratic administration, with a Democratic president, that we may not be the most effective messenger to communicate with hardcore supporters of the former president, and we have to be clear eyed about that,’ she said.
She said the administration is working to make sure there are trusted locations ‘where anybody of any political persuasion can get the vaccine and they don’t need to wear a Joe Biden sticker in order to do that.’
Trump has complained he’s not getting enough credit for his work.
‘I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the Covid-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful shot for five years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all,’ he said in a statement Wednesday night.