The Biden administration said Monday it is turning to NASCAR, Discovery’s “The Deadliest Catch” and “country music TV” to convince rural white conservatives to get their COVID-19 vaccines — calling the effort an attempt to “meet people where they are.”
Speaking to reporters at her daily briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki discussed the effort after being asked about how the administration was handling the large swath of Republicans who do not want to be inoculated.
“We’ve run PSAs on ‘The Deadliest Catch,’ we’re engaged with NASCAR and Country Music TV,” the top White House spokeswoman said, referring to the CMT network.
“We’re looking for a range of creative ways to get directly connected to white conservative communities. We won’t always be the best messengers, but we’re still trying to meet people where they are, but also empower local organizations,” she continued.
In addition, she said, the administration dispatched Dr. Anthony Fauci, despite his dismal approval ratings with conservatives, to make media appearances and promote the vaccines.
While the White House hasn’t had much trouble convincing Democrats and most independents to take any of the three COVID vaccines when it was their turn, Republicans have been a harder sell.
Asked about that difficulty during a CNN appearance last month, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, blamed the hesitancy on “a natural resistance to government.”
“Well, I’ve thought a lot about that and I think it’s a natural resistance to government and skepticism of it,” Hutchinson told the network.
“You look at the breadth of support here in Arkansas for President Trump, and you have rural voters, you have minority voters and their hesitancy is worrisome, not just here but all across the country,” he continued.
Hutchinson went on to share his prediction that the country was going to have an easy time reaching the 50 percent vaccination rate.
The problem, however, would come reaching 70 percent, which would bring the country to just under herd immunity.
“We’re going to have a harder time getting from 50 percent to 70 percent, and it’s about overcoming the skepticism,” he said.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appealed directly to the men in his party, saying, “I saw on some program last week that Republican men, curiously enough, might be reluctant to take the vaccine.
“I’m a Republican man, and I want to say to everyone: We need to take this vaccine. These reservations need to be put aside, because the only way — I think — we get to finally put this pandemic in the rearview mirror is with herd immunity,” he continued, noting that would require 75 percent of Americans to be fully inoculated.
McConnell’s comments, his second promoting the vaccine to Republican men, also earned the praise of the White House, which tweeted, “Senator McConnell is right — and we thank him for his leadership.”
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