One thing I am going to be watching during the 2024 presidential race is how former President Donald J. Trump is going to square the circle with one big problem he will face: how to leverage his biggest accomplishment while in office.
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And that can be only one thing: pushing hard to get a COVID-19 vaccine created in record time.
How Does Donald Trump Work Around This?
I am going to leave the science to the scientists and experts as I am no healthcare professional and I don’t pretend to be.
Looking at the politics of it all, we must be honest. Trump pushed like hell to get a vaccine across the finish line.
In the process, one could make the argument he saved countless lives and did the nation a service in the process.
And while the vaccine was no silver bullet – it did not end the pandemic, and variants have popped up – clearly, Donald Trump had the right idea on how to tackle COVID-19.
And for all of that, he should get every American’s praise. He did the right thing when many thought it was possible.
Was his COVID-19 strategy perfect? No way. I won’t ever forget his infamous ride in the presidential limo when he was sick with COVID-19 and had secret service agents in the car with him.
I mean, really? That’s not presidential.
Nonetheless, many on the right and in hardcore MAGA land fear all things COVID-19 vaccine.
Again, I will not touch the science on this at all. Let the experts debate and explain the effectiveness and side effects of the vaccine – heck, you and your doctor need to work that debate out. That is not for me or anyone else to comment on. I am vaccinated and boosted, but I respect your right to not only what you put in your body but personal choice.
The challenge, however, for Trump is pretty easy to see: how does he brag about his most significant accomplishment when a good junk of his base is against his vaccine in the first place?
Think of it like this: on a few occasions at rallies, since he left office, when he mentions the vaccine, people have booed his comments. He did not know what to do.
If I were Trump, I would not know what to do.
For now, it seems Donald Trump just does not want to mention the vaccine or his role in it. However, Trump is going to need to have some sort of strategy to talk to his MAGA followers on this issue. I can see GOP candidates hitting him for this somehow – the man who pushed the vaccine that so many fear.
Maybe Donald Trump just decides to move on and never touch the vaccine issue again. Maybe he decides to go rogue and brag about it like he loves to about all his wins.
The problem will always be that if Trump keeps reminding his base he created the vaccine they hate, it will come back to haunt him and cost him votes.
That is one biggly problem.
About the author: Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar task force in the John Hay Initiative. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.