'Ghoulish' GOP blasted by CNN host for fundraising off COVID vaccine fears as infection rates explode
In his "Reality Check" segment on CNN's "New Day," co-host John Avlon criticized some within the Republican Party for not only exacerbating fears of COVID-19 vaccines but also cynically fundraising off of those same fears.
Noting that Oklahoma Republican chair John Bennett compared pressure to be vaccinated to the Holocaust, Avlon said that linking the life-saving vaccine to the murder of over six million Jews is outrageous and made even worse by the fact that the state's GOP sent out a fundraising letter using the analogy.
"Back in April, Canada had 3 percent of the population fully vaccinated. there are no domestic manufacturers of the vaccine up north. Cities like Montreal and Toronto were in lockdown," he began. "Fast forward to this summer and 59 percent of the Canadian population is fully vaccinated with 71 percent having received one dose. Meanwhile, in the U.S., cases and hospitalizations are spiking and were stalled at under 50 percent fully vaccinated which begs the question: why?"
"The answer is that our country is stuck and suffering right now because of the unvaccinated and a stubbornly high percent have refused the vaccine because of hyperpartisan lies," he continued before sharing a GOP tweet attacking vaccinations. "Here is a steaming fresh example of that BS pushing out a tweet comparing common sense restrictions for the unvaccinated to the yellow star that Hitler's Nazi Germany forced Jewish citizens to wear. Yes, the same one that identified the 6 million people murdered during the Holocaust."
"Of course, this part of a sickening pattern of Nazi comparison put out by the far-right," he continued. "Not just random whackos, but people who represent the Republican Party in positions of power and influence. And the Oklahoma GOP is fundraising off this bile. It's ghoulish. They're trying to profit from polarization on the back of people's pain and suffering. Because in Oklahoma City, ICUs are near capacity as COVID hospitalizations have nearly doubled in the past few weeks."
"Let's look at Florida, where just a few weeks ago, Governor Ron DeSantis' PAC was selling swag saying 'Don't Fauci my Florida,'" he continued. "Now Florida has broken its record for new daily cases and vaccinations, higher than before vaccinations were available. Patients in the ICU there are begging for vaccines. In fact, Florida has gotten nearly 25 times more people hospitalized for COVID than in all of Canada."
"So when Florida Representative Matt Gaetz tells supporters this weekend, 'I've got the Florida variant, the freedom variant,' it affects the brain, it's more of a self-own than he intends, and he is mocking his own constituents who are suffering from the very real disease," Avlon asserted.
"For every Republican politician who is trying to get their constituents to get the vaccine now, there are still many who are spreading deadly misinformation. Leadership matters. Get this, every Democratic member of Congress hasn't gotten vaccinated. But 97 Republicans, including Gaetz, refused to share their vaccination status when asked by CNN", he continued before calling the GOP leadership "self-deluded."
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A GOP primary this Tuesday is causing "consternation" for Donald Trump and allies after the candidate he backed in a special Texas congressional race lost last week, according to The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey and David Weigel -- a defeat that was "an embarrassing setback" for Trump, who has sought to show his party influence in a string of endorsements.
Tuesday's primary to replace Ohio GOP congressman Steve Stivers is being described as another test of Trump's influence in the Republican Party, which some think has waned as of late.
"In a bid to avoid a second straight loss, Trump is now making last-minute moves to bolster support for coal lobbyist Mike Carey, his pick in the Ohio special election, including hosting a get-out-the-vote telerally for him Monday night," the Post reports. "A super PAC run by Trump's allies made a last-minute buy of $350,000 in text messages and other ads for Carey last week, according to a federal filing. Carey's campaign has also been given access to some data from Trump's political operation, according to people with knowledge of the arrangement."
Trump is reportedly extremely competitive about the races he involves himself in and his advisers are worried about losing two in a row.
Nevertheless, according to the Post, there are plenty of signs that Trump still has strong sway over the GOP.
"GOP candidates fear he will endorse their rivals, even hiring his advisers to keep it from happening, according to people familiar with such moves. Republican lawmakers regularly trek to Trump's private clubs to pay him homage. 'They beg like you'd never believe,' one adviser in Trump's operation said."
Read the full article over at The Washington Post.
Pro-Trump door-knockers appear to be linked to a Pennsylvania lawmaker – but the ‘intimidation' campaign is shrouded in mystery
A pro-Trump "election integrity committee" — which has reportedly been going door to door in Pennsylvania and demanding to know for whom people voted — appears to be targeting minority neighborhoods and may be linked to a Republican state senator's "audit" campaign, the York Dispatch reported Monday.
While the identity of the pro-Trump door-knockers remains a mystery, the newspaper's report suggests they may be associated with two rather secretive groups that bill themselves as "grassroots election watchdogs," Audit the Vote PA and FreePA. Both groups were involved in a recent meeting to recruit volunteers in the area, and both have repeatedly hosted Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who is spearheading the push for a statewide forensic audit of votes in the 2020 presidential election.
"Mastriano, a Franklin County Republican who's been associated with several of these groups but not conclusively linked to the door-knocking, did not respond to requests for comment," the Dispatch reported.
Democrats say the door-knockers are guilty of voter intimidation, and local officials — including Republican county leaders — are encouraging people to report any encounters with the self-appointed "election integrity committee" to law enforcement.
So far, most reports have come from southern York County, and Nick Anspach, an assistant professor of political science at York College, said the campaign "could particularly impact people of color."
"Right now, minorities overwhelmingly identify as Democrats," Anspach said. "And it just happens to be that these marginalized groups have been victims of voter intimidation. It just seems more of the same as far as that goes."
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