Trump’s involvement in the advertising was never discussed, given his distance from the presidential club at the end of his tenure and the bitter path he took to leave Washington on Inauguration Day, said people familiar with the matter.
It was a conversation on that January day between former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama that paved the way for the vaccination campaign, which started Thursday. Because Trump chose not to join his predecessors at this historic moment, he was not invited to participate in the public announcement, according to a person close to the project.
Trump has shown little interest in joining his predecessors in promoting the vaccine, and the team organizing the APS thought it unlikely that the 45th president would join them.
He gave no signal that he wanted to be there at those times, an aide to the former president told CNN.
There seems to be no reason to exclude Trump, said one person involved in the production, but rather the feeling that his participation was never a real possibility.
A spokesman for the ad board that created the spot, when asked why Trump was not on the list, said it was something that started with previous presidents when President Trump was still in office.
Representatives for Trump did not respond to questions about why he was not there.
While in office, Trump administration officials discussed how and when he might get the coronavirus vaccine, including the prospect of doing so on camera. Still, Trump himself didn’t seem particularly eager to get the vaccine, said a person familiar with the situation, though he has talked about developing it and is taking credit for it.
A former Trump administration official said the former president is also sensitive about his image since his hospitalization with Covid, and is not receptive to photo ops that might show his health and fitness.
There was some discussion about Ivanka Trump getting the shot publicly, but that idea didn’t pan out either. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence were the top officials in the Trump administration featured on the tape.
Both Trump and former first lady Melania Trump received the coronavirus vaccine at the White House in January, but that fact was not announced until weeks after they left Washington. On Wednesday, before the announcement was released, Trump issued a statement confirming the vaccine’s credibility.
Here, former presidents talk about what they missed during the pandemic and why they want to get vaccinated. Clinton says she wants to get back to work and be able to move around. Obama says he misses his mother-in-law’s visits and wants to kiss and see her on her birthday. And Bush says he’s looking forward to opening day at Texas Rangers Stadium with the entire stadium.
Former President Jimmy Carter is not speaking on camera, but the 96-year-old Democrat said at the scene that he is getting the vaccine because we want to end this pandemic as soon as possible.
The ad ends with the four former presidents urging Americans to get vaccinated, as seen in the images of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Barack and Michelle Obama, George and Laura Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton getting vaccinated.
An incredible job
Nearly a year ago, Trump was asked if he would consult with former presidents on how to handle a pandemic, which used to be common for presidents facing major crises.
I think we’re doing great. So I don’t want to inconvenience them, inconvenience them, he said at a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force. I don’t think I learn much, and, you know, you could say there’s probably a natural tendency not to call.
The answer came as no surprise. Trump has made little secret of his dislike for his predecessors while in office. In particular, he removed the portraits of Clinton and Bush from their prominent place in the White House lobby and moved them to a secluded storage area.
The portraits were transferred to their original location under Biden, who has expressed a desire to cultivate a more functional relationship with his predecessors. Earlier this year, he told Town Hall on CNN that he had spoken to every living former president except one, presumably Trump, though he did not mention him by name.
All but one picked up the phone and called me, he told Anderson Cooper.
Such consultations have been largely absent during Trump’s tenure. He rarely, if ever, spoke to the men who preceded him in office. The only time they met, at former President George W. Bush’s funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the reception was a bit cold.
Trump broke another precedent by boycotting Biden’s inauguration and instead visiting Washington on the morning of the 20th. in January with a ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.
He left a note for Biden that called the president very generous, but he also sharply criticized his successor in statements made from his headquarters in Florida.
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.
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