Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, said Sunday that vaccine hesitancy among supporters of former President Trump is the result of a “natural resistance to government,” calling the reluctance to get the vaccine “worrisome.”
On CNN’s State of the Union, host Dana Bash asked Hutchinson what he believes is causing the hesitancy seen among Trump voters, noting that half of the 45th president’s supporters have said they do not plan on receiving a coronavirus vaccine.
“Well I’ve thought a lot about that and I think it’s a natural resistance to government and skepticism of it,” Hutchinson said. “But you look at the breadth of support here in Arkansas for President Trump, and you have rural voters, you have minority voters and their hesitancy is worrisome, not just here but all across the country.”
“And I expect, as a country, we’ll get the 50 percent vaccination rate of the population, but we’re going to have a harder time getting from 50 percent to 70 percent, and it’s about overcoming the skepticism,” he added.
However, as National Review‘s Jim Geraghty noted earlier this week, while a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey showed that nearly half of Republican men said they wouldn’t choose to be vaccinated if a vaccine was made available to them, that same survey also showed 24 percent of all self-identified Republicans 20 percent of all self-identified Republican men had already received the vaccine.
“Self-identified Republican men made up 13 percent of the sample,” Geraghty writes. “So if slightly less than half of this demographic really does turn down the vaccine when offered, we’re looking at 6 to 7 percent of the overall adult population.”
Asked if Trump should be more proactive in encouraging his supporters to receive the vaccine, Hutchinson said he is “delighted” that the president recently indicated that his supporters should get the vaccine.
While Trump did not participate in a public service announcement with other former U.S. presidents that encouraged Americans to get vaccinated, Trump did support vaccination in an interview last week.
“I don’t know the story behind as to why he wasn’t in the PSA with the other presidents,” Hutchinson said. “Any message is helpful and I think we have to have our leaders, we have to have sports figures, we have to have different representatives of our community, including our political leaders, say [the] vaccine is important.”
Hutchinson also reiterated his plans to lift his state’s mask mandate by the end of March.
He defended the decision to Bash, who asked why the mandate would be rescinded in light of evidence that has showed the efficacy of mask use in mitigating the spread of the virus.
“We’re a year into this and we know so much more today than we did a year ago,” he said. “And so we had to educate people understand the importance of the mask, and I expect even though we take the mask mandate away that people will continue to use the mask when you cannot safely distance.”