Administration

Luntz advised Biden’s COVID-19 team

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Veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz advised President Biden’s COVID-19 team, sharing research with the White House to help develop strategies for encouraging individuals skeptical about the vaccine to get inoculated.

Andy Slavitt, who stepped down from his position as senior adviser to the White House’s COVID-19 response effort last month, told Politico that Luntz, in an unofficial capacity, invited personnel from the White House coronavirus task force into focus groups.

The White House also invited the pollster to take part in a number of briefing calls that were held with television networks, where the conversations focused on how certain language could potentially politicize the pandemic response.

Luntz confirmed that the White House approached him amid the country’s COVID-19 response, telling Politico, “The Biden team didn’t ask me for anything. They simply said, ‘Whatever you find, we want to know.”

Luntz compared those efforts to that of former President Trump, contending that Biden’s predecessor “did not care about the research we started to do.”

“This is more than Trump did. Trump did not care about the research we started to do. The [Trump] White House wasn’t interested in it, he didn’t promote it,” Luntz told the news outlet.

Slavitt said he was first to approach Luntz in the beginning days in the pandemic to aid the response. He said the pollster provided ample details from focus group research that helped the administration recognize the best ways to talk to people about the safety of vaccines.

Luntz dismissed people who were surprised to hear that the veteran GOP pollster would help a Democratic administration, telling Politico “I don’t care if people b—- at me.”

When asked if his work with the Biden White House would further hurt his relationship with conservatives like Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who criticized him last year for renting a room to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Luntz told Politico, “I don’t care.”

Slavitt said the information Luntz provided was helpful and matched the framework the administration was already using: focus on hyper-local outreach, such as doctors contacting their patients to encourage them to get inoculated.

Luntz, however, did take a hit on the administration’s door-to-door vaccine advocacy strategy, which has become a target of criticism from Republicans. The pollster said the “likelihood of success is extremely low.”

One strategy Luntz did say would be effective is getting Trump on board with the administration’s vaccine push.

“I think Joe Biden needs to say explicitly, ‘President Trump, tell your people to get vaccinated … If you won’t, explain why. And if you won’t, stop trying to take credit for developing the vaccine because what good is the vaccine if people won’t get it,” Luntz told Politico.

The pollster revealed in May, during an appearance on Chelsea Clinton’s podcast “In Fact with Chelsea Clinton,” that he cried when receiving his COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’ll acknowledge something to you, I don’t even want to look at you when I say this. When I got the vaccine, the first shot in my arm, I started to cry because I had a pre-existing condition, I was damaged from last year, and that shot to me was life itself. It was actually, I’m going to live, and I didn’t know that for six or seven months,” Luntz said.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Tucker Carlson
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