[guest post by Dana]
The cynic in me says, meh, midterms, am I right?? The generous part of me says good on McConnell.. And if he wants to use his campaign funds to get the word out, that’s a good thing too. If only more elected Republicans would do likewise in their own states:
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell will use his campaign funds to pay for radio ads in his home state of Kentucky encouraging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, sources close to McConnell told NBC News on Wednesday.
It is highly unusual for members of Congress to use campaign funds for anything outside of their re-election efforts. But McConnell’s decision reflects the looming crisis posed by delta variant Covid infections in states with low vaccination levels.
In Kentucky, only eight of the state’s more than 120 counties report vaccination rates above 50%, according to the latest CDC data.
“Everybody needs to get vaccinated,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday evening, after the Centers for Disease control issued new mask guidance advising they be worn indoors in low-vaccination areas.
More than 100 radio ads will air across Kentucky in the coming days, the source told NBC.
McConnell notes that he was inspired by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who was blunt about the lack of vaccinations in her state, saying that it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated for new Covid-19 cases.
Given that McConnell has been Kentucky’s senator since 1985, he obviously remains influential with constituents. And certainly, any effort to increase vaccination rates in a state where they are currently pretty low, can’t hurt. However, ultimately, I think that this is true: the person whose voice has the greatest potential to significantly increase vaccination rates in red states is the head of today’s Republican Party:
Frank Luntz is a veteran Republican pollster advising the administration of President Joe Biden about reaching people reluctant to get the vaccine. He has been warning for months about the impediment to COVID-19 vaccination rates posed by politicization.
“The key here is to ensure that no one feels like they have to do it. They have to want to do it. So, insulting them or mandating them won’t work,” Luntz told Reuters. “Political messages won’t work, unless you’re Donald Trump. If Trump were to say to them: ‘Hey, get the vaccine.’ That would make a difference. But he doesn’t do that. All he does is complain about the election.”
In a statement last week, former President Trump said, “People are refusing to take the vaccine because they don’t trust (Biden’s) administration, they don’t trust the election results.”