Biden credits McConnell for urging Republicans to get vaccinated

Biden credits McConnell for urging Republicans to get vaccinated
© The New York Times/Pool

President BidenJoe BidenDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized Pfizer to apply for COVID-19 booster approval for 16- and 17-year-olds: report Coronavirus variant raises fresh concerns for economy MORE on Tuesday credited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears MORE (R-Ky.) for urging Republicans to get the coronavirus vaccine as polling shows that group is among the least likely to get the shot.

"Mitch McConnell keeps speaking to them, which I give him credit for, saying ... polling data shows Republican men, particularly young men, don’t think they should have to take the vaccine. It’s their patriotic right not to do it, their freedom to choose," Biden said when asked about different groups that are reluctant to take the vaccine.

"And he’s saying, 'No. No. Take the vaccine,' " Biden continued. "And I’ll add a phrase he didn’t but I think he believes. It’s a patriotic responsibility you have."

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McConnell has been outspoken throughout the pandemic about the need to wear a mask, and he has in recent months encouraged Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine as it becomes more widely available.

During a stop in Kentucky on Monday, the senator appealed directly to Republican men.

"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," McConnell said.

The official White House Twitter account thanked McConnell for his "leadership" on the issue.

The praise from Biden and his team comes despite a frosty political relationship between the president and the Republican Senate leader. The two men have only spoken once since Inauguration Day, and while McConnell has said he likes Biden personally he has been sharply critical of his policies and offered no support for the administration's proposals.

Polling has consistently shown Republicans, and Republican men, in particular, are among the least likely to say they will get the coronavirus vaccine.

The White House has turned to community and religious leaders in an effort to persuade skeptical conservatives to get the shot, acknowledging they may be unlikely to listen to top officials in the Biden administration.