Every living former US president has appeared in an ad campaign telling Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, apart from Donald Trump, who has instead released a statement demanding credit for the vaccine.
On Thursday, the nonprofit Ad Council released a public service advertisement starring Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter.
“This vaccine means hope,” Obama said in the video. “It will protect you and those you love from this dangerous and deadly disease.”
Trump was conspicuously absent, though it’s unclear if he was asked to join the campaign.
Hours before the campaign went live, Trump’s personal office in Florida released a statement in which he claimed responsibility for the vaccines’ existence.
“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 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!” Trump said, using a derogatory term for the novel coronavirus, which was first found in China.
Asked by Insider whether it had asked Trump to join the PSA, an Ad Council said the project with the presidents started in December. The spokesperson did not say whether the Ad Council had approached Trump, who at the time was an outgoing president.
The spokesperson added that some of the ads were filmed at President Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration, which Trump did not attend, having flown to his resort in Palm Beach that morning.
Trump said last year he would get the vaccine but did not say when, and did not say whether he would follow the likes of Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence and get his shot live on TV.
Yet it was reported earlier this month that Trump and first lady Melania Trump quietly got the vaccine in the White House in January.
Trump has long claimed responsibility for securing a vaccine for the US, despite his Operation Warp Speed vaccine-development program deemed a failure beset with problems and widely criticized.
Members of the Biden administration have said that they inherited no coronavirus-vaccine-distribution plan from Trump White House, with a person telling CNN they had to “build everything from scratch.”
Days before Biden’s inauguration, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Operation Warp Speed would continue in the Biden administration, but that there was an “urgent need to address the failures of the Trump team approach to vaccine distribution.”
Biden called the vaccine rollout under Trump “a dismal failure.”
Trump missed his administration’s target of administering 20 million doses by the end of 2020. Biden is aiming to administer 100 million doses of the vaccine in his first 100 days in office, or by April 30.
Biden’s plan appears to be on track and the vaccine rollout is well underway.
Meanwhile, states including Texas and Mississippi have abandoned mandatory mask-wearing. But Biden said the move was premature and an example of “Neanderthal thinking.”