Trump Voters Are Defecting to Robert Kennedy Over the Vaccine Issue

Donald Trump finds himself in trouble with some of his most passionate supporters. At the very beginning of the COVID pandemic, Trump managed unprecedented cooperation with the government, pharmaceutical companies, and Congress to create a vaccine for the virus in record time. Operation Warp Speed was seen as a success.

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No, it didn’t do what it was promised to do: protect most people who got jabbed from getting sick. But it did protect elderly people like me who might have gotten seriously ill and ended up in the hospital because of comorbidities like COPD, heart disease, and diabetes. 

And there are definite issues with the safety of the vaccines, although, with 400 million doses dispensed, the fatality rate is still very low. 

But all in all, the scales tip in favor of Trump for making the extraordinary happen. A vaccine had never been developed so quickly. 

I personally think the dangers of the vaccine have been overhyped, largely for political reasons. I know that a lot more elderly and immuno-compromised people would have died without it. Biden’s mandates and shutdowns severely damaged the economy, and resentment against the high-handed way that Biden and his crew managed the pandemic left a bad taste in most American’s mouths.

At first, Trump quite rightly. boasted about it. But as the months and years passed, many of his supporters did not see the vaccine’s development as positive. Along comes Robert F. Kennedy with questionable science and jiggered statistics and suddenly Trump looks like a villain rather than a hero for having a huge hand in creating the vaccine

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“Trump’s statements are clearly deliberate and politically calculated to negate the threat that [Kennedy] has become to him,” Republican strategist and former Trump administration appointee Matthew Bartlett said. “Otherwise, he would be demanding a Nobel prize for Operation Warp Speed and taking credit for ending the pandemic.”.

Politico:

Trump’s elevation of vaccine policy in recent weeks reflects the unique problem that Kennedy poses for the presumptive Republican nominee. While presidential candidates typically moderate their messages for a general election audience after winning primaries, Kennedy has forced the former president to continue guarding his right flank on Covid by attracting vaccine skeptics to his third-party campaign and skewering Trump’s support for early pandemic shutdowns.

It’s a reality even Trump has tacitly acknowledged. In a recent video in which the former president torched Kennedy as a “fake,” he addressed his comments in part to “those of you who want to vote because you think he’s an anti-vaxxer.”

Trump’s role in dealing with the early stages of the pandemic should be examined on the basis of what was known at the time about COVID-19 — how it was spread, how serious it was, and whom it affected most seriously. In hindsight, it looks like an overreaction. He relied on the recommendations of the people he was supposed to rely on; Dr. Fauci and the CDC.

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The problem came when the Biden administration hijacked the pandemic for their own purposes. Other state and local governments, mostly Democrats, did the same. Even after some of the biggest questions about COVID-19 were answered, the shutdowns and the mandates continued.

Trump is “insulating against it being a problem,” said Jason Roe, a Republican strategist and former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party. “Trump is in a pretty commanding position in most of the polls in swing states, so why take the chance of RFK Jr. screwing it up for you.”

Trump’s support for vaccines has been all over the map since he entered politics, including his suggestion during a 2015 GOP debate that he believed the widely discredited theory that vaccines were linked to autism. Following his election, one of the first major controversies of his transition into the White House came when Kennedy said the president-elect had asked him to chair a commission on vaccine safety focused on false claims about vaccines and autism. Trump ultimately didn’t install one.

When Covid-19 tore across the U.S., Trump, who has bragged about never having gotten a flu shot, pushed for a vaccine to be ready in record speed. But vaccine skepticism and general backlash to pandemic-related shutdowns and mandates among Republicans — and the MAGA base in particular — turned one of Trump’s major policy victories into one of his biggest political liabilities heading into the 2024 Republican primary.

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Overall, Trump’s vaccine record is probably a positive. But in some states, RFK might steal some votes from him because of the general misunderstanding about the vaccine itself. Too late now. The narrative has been set. Those who believe the vaccine is harmful are not going to change their minds.

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