Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Tuesday in front of television cameras received her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. On the same day, she was called out by conservatives for her past statement from the vice presidential debate in which she said she would not take a vaccine recommended by President Donald Trump.
Harris, alongside her husband Doug Emhoff, both received vaccine doses at the United Medical Center in Washington, DC, coming after President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President Mike Pence, and members of Congress began to get the Pfizer vaccine last week as part of a continuity of government plan.
On the other hand, a growing list of politicians and public figures have stated they will not receive the vaccine before the elderly do and have called out their colleagues who on the younger side for having gotten the vaccine.
“It’s now clear that we don’t have enough vaccines for everyone and there is shortage of supply, we have to prioritize those who need it most,” Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted December 20. “That’s why it’s disturbing to see members be 1st to get vaccine while most frontline workers, elderly and infirm in our districts, wait.”
After getting her injection, Harris said “I want to encourage everyone to get the vaccine.”
“It is relatively painless, it happens really quickly, it is safe,” she added.
“Literally, this is about saving lives. It’s literally about saving lives,” the vice president-elect continued. “I trust the scientists and it is the scientists who created and approved this vaccine so I urge everyone, when it is your turn, get vaccinated.”
On the same day of Harris’s vaccination, conservatives across Twitter brought up a previous statement of hers from the October vice presidential debate when she said that she would not take a vaccine if President Trump recommended it.
“If Dr. Fauci, the doctors, tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it,” Harris said during the debate. “But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I’m not going to take it.”
Vice President Mike Pence then criticized Harris for her response, saying the California senator was undermining confidence in a vaccine the Trump administration had claimed would soon be ready for distribution to the public.
“I just ask you to stop playing politics with people’s lives,” Pence said. “The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if a vaccine emerges in the Trump administration, is unconscionable.”
Prior to the debate, Harris had expressed her skepticism toward a potential vaccine.
Here is some of the criticism toward Harris’s vaccination:
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”
Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.
Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.
“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”
“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”
This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”
During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.
“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”
“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”
Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.
Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.
“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.
“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”
He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.
Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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