Though former President Trump has finally started telling his supporters to get the COVID vaccine, after he received the injection himself in secret back in January, it seems like it’s too little too late.
Trump encouraged everyone to “go get your shot” during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month and spoke a little more about the vaccine during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday night.
“I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it,” he said. “And a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”
Always hedging when he might lose support, Trump added that “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.”
But after almost an entire year of him downplaying the severity of the virus, failing to wear a mask consistently and appropriately, and generally encouraging distrust in science, Trump’s supporters aren’t so easily swayed back from where he led them.
And, in fact, his sudden championing of the vaccine seems to be turning some of them against him.
CNN’s Gary Tuchman visited Boise City, Oklahoma, where the overwhelming majority of votes went to Trump in the November election.
They only managed to find one person who had already gotten the vaccine, and couldn’t find anyone out and about who planned to do so.
When Tuchman asked residents why they wouldn’t get the vaccine, most didn’t seem interested in talking about it, referring vaguely to not trusting science or simply not wanting to get vaccinations in general. But when he pointed out that even Trump was suggesting people get vaccinated, one man who voted for him had an interesting response:
“Trump is a liberal New Yorker,” he said. “Why would we listen to him either?”
The sentiment online is similar, with many former Trump supporters expressing that they feel betrayed by Trump becoming pro-vaccine, or suggesting someone “got to him.”
It’s unclear what this new divide might mean for a potential Trump 2024 bid for the presidency, but hopefully we never have to find out.