Republicans are posturing against vaccine passports ahead of the 2022 midterms because of they believe their view is line with much of the public on the subject.
As part of the general strategy to take back the majority in the House of Representatives and recapture the majority in the Senate, Republicans believe that vaccine passports should not be mandated because they are violative of personal privacy rights and would be a product of government overreach by exerting too much public control over private lives, reports The Hill.
Outspoken Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) stated it was “unacceptable” for local governments or businesses to require proof of vaccination for people to “participate in normal society,” added The Hill. DeSantis also signed an executive order recently which banned any future vaccine certificate requirements in Florida. He also suggested that the Republican controlled state legislature draft a bill turning his executive order into state law.
“It’s a political winner,” Ford O’Connell, a Florida-based Republican strategist, said. “They look at it as an all-out assault on personal freedoms and the Constitution, but also, it’s about protecting the average, ordinary Floridian who wants to live their regular day-to-day lives,” according to the Hill.
GOP strategists are positioning campaigns on the proposition that vaccine passports will help them play on voters’ fears of government overreach and privacy violations. While there may be an increased desire to receive the COVID vaccination,there is still a strong reluctance to be required to carry a vaccine passport.
A Gallup poll released on Tuesday concluded that roughly 75% of those responding are willing to be vaccinated.
The White House said it expected the private sector to take the lead on verification of vaccine passports and would not issue a federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential, according to Reuters. However, the Biden administration was reviewing the issue and would make recommendations, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday, but she added, “We believe it will be driven by the private sector.”
“It’s not a COVID discussion for Republicans. It is a freedom discussion. It’s a role-of-government discussion,” one GOP strategist said. “Would I prefer to be having a COVID discussion next year? No. But we want to be having that freedom discussion.”
If strategists are correct, this position taken by Republicans on vaccine passports may put them over-the-top in their quest to recover the majority in both houses of Congress as they only need five seats in the House and only one in the Senate to seize the majority.
Not all in the GOP are confident that opposition to vaccine passports will be a winning issue.
“It’s red meat for the base, sure, but this doesn’t help us win back the middle,” one veteran GOP campaign aide reported to the Hill. “It’s just more of the culture wars ... and it also means talking about COVID instead of the damage being done by Democrats.”
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on a “Utah Politics” podcast Friday that it should be an optional business issue and not a government one.
“I think vaccines are good, and I think once people have gotten a vaccine that they have the ability to present credentials to private property owners who might decide they want their customers to have been vaccinated,” Lee said.
“You don’t ever want to get us in a position where our own government is playing any part in the way human beings move within our own borders,” he added. “That’s something the American people, regardless of their political leanings, don’t want.”
Since Trump has yet to weigh in about vaccine passports, some Republicans deferred their agreement until Trump addresses the topic, reports the Hill.
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