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Trump’s most ardent supporters are turning against him, publicly ripping into him since he voiced his wholehearted approval of Covid vaccines.
During an appearance at a Bill O’Reilly ‘History Tour’ event in Dallas, the former president claimed success in expediting the creation of Covid vaccines through Operation Warp Speed, a program he created that provided billions of dollars in government funding and cut the drug’s approval time down from the usual six or seven years to one.
“We did something that was historic,” Trump boasted before the crowd. “We got a vaccine done.” When he later admitted he had not only been vaccinated twice, but had got a booster, he was booed by some of his erstwhile supporters.
While Trump tried to play down the booing as representing only a “very tiny number,” O’Reilly reported that the former president called him after the event, and needed consoling.
“I said ‘This is good for you, this is good that people see another side of you, not a political side,’” the former Fox News anchor said. “‘You told the truth, you believe in the vax, your administration did it, and you should take credit for it…’”
Then Trump gave a softball interview to Candace Owens, which he used to double down on his support for vaccines in what appeared to be an attempt to persuade his supporters to go along with him on the issue and credit him for the success of the immunization campaign.
“The vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind… I came up with a vaccine – with three vaccines – all are very, very good. The vaccines work,” he pleaded. “The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take their vaccine… If you take the vaccine you’re protected. Look, the results of the vaccine are very good, and if you do get [Covid], it’s a very minor form. People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine.”
Trump concluded by claiming, “I’m a big fan of the vaccine. I’m not going to give that up. That’s a great achievement… Millions and millions of lives I’ve saved.”
His repeated advocacy for the vaccine was way too much for one of his longtime and most ardent supporters, the controversial right-wing radio show host Alex Jones. Jones, who has repeatedly claimed the vaccines are killing people, became so enraged over Trump’s interviews that he posted an “emergency Christmas Day warning” stating that Trump is either “completely ignorant” or is “one of the most evil men who has ever lived.”
From there, Jones produced another show to say, “This is the end of civilization… You are literally worshiping Fauci, Trump… Hell, we’re fighting Bill Gates and Fauci and Biden and the New World Order and Psaki and the Davos group… and now we’ve got Trump on their team…! I’m done with Trump… he’s just totally destroyed himself with this. Trump could have been the champion, but in my view we just need to move on.”
Candace Owens was only a little less aggressive, saying that Trump was old, ignorant about vaccines, and not well read:
Jones then interviewed another Trump supporter, friend and Mar-a-Lago invitee Wayne Allyn Root, who called for an “intervention” because Trump was suffering from “total delusion.” Root said he would recommend to Trump that he make a quick pivot to focusing against the mandates and drop his positive claims for the vaccines. To this, Jones responded, “Give him a little bit of a pivot to say, ‘Hey we were scared. We didn’t know. We rammed it through…’ We even gave him the nuanced way to get out of it, and he didn’t do it. That’s why I’m starting to see red here… CNN is praising Trump right now. This is not good.”
Root, who claims to be a campaign specialist, warned that, if Trump keeps this up, he would be “committing political suicide because when you side with Democrats on key issues that anger your Republican base, you lose the base, but you don’t gain one Democrat vote… He runs for election. He doesn’t get one Democrat vote… and he loses a third of the base, and he loses a close race for re-election.”
“You’re dead on,” replied Jones, who played a significant role in getting Trump elected in 2016. “I’ve never heard such truth.”
Because Trump didn’t go with the suggested pivot, Jones really unleashed on him on his next show, claiming that “he doesn’t know what’s going on” and “when you think he’s playing 4-D chess, and he’s going to save you, he’s not… He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he’s surrounded by bad advisers.”
Jones yelled about how “incompetent” Trump was and ultimately threatened to dish all the dirt he knows about the “pathetic” ex-president if he didn’t change his position. Whether Jones really does know where some of the bodies are buried remains to be seen.
In yet another show in a developing campaign against Trump, Jones also brought on Alison Steinberg, formerly a major MAGA cheerleader, who was at the Capitol on January 6. Steinberg was filled with fire, saying “F**k Donald Trump”, adding, “what he is doing is evil.”
Until now, many Trump supporters have been willing to ignore his role in rushing the vaccines into being. “We’ve made excuses for him for a long time,” says Steinberg. One of her other complaints is that Trump has betrayed his base by not backing the people who went to the Capitol to support him in January.
“I have been such a huge supporter of Trump all the time, and I’ve really wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt… but now he’s sitting there continuously backing Big Pharma, and continuously begging for the attention of his supporters and wanting all this credit for something we know is evil… More people need to… wake up to the fact that he is not actually on our side anymore… What about all those January 6 political prisoners? Where is he on that? We came there in support of him… and he won’t even help us out… There’s people rotting away in prison, and he has no comment on that.”
As a result, she sees MAGA as becoming “divided” against each other and Trump. Another major Trump January 6 supporter, Ali Alexander, shared her anger. “Remember when Trump said you would be playing right into the Democrats’ hands by mocking the rushed, ineffective shot?” Alexander wrote on Telegram. “Yeah, Joe Biden praises him and his booster shot. Trump, stop. Just stop.”
One group decided to test Trump’s repeated apparent opposition to President Biden making vaccines mandatory by turning up to eat at Trump Grill in New York and found it “a little hypocritical” for the restaurant to turn them away for not being vaccinated.
Until these incidents, polls for the Republican primaries for 2024 showed Trump with a healthy lead to be the party’s presidential candidate again. The question is whether his support for the vaccines will cost him sufficient votes to allow another hopeful – such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or former vice-president Mike Pence – to overtake him.
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