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Republicans with their eyes on the White House wasted little time ripping President Joe Biden’s executive order mandating the coronavirus vaccine nationwide, saying he overstepped his constitutional authority and is attempting to distract Americans from Afghanistan.
In tweets, statements, and television interviews, governors and senators mulling a 2024 presidential bid unloaded on Biden on Thursday and Friday following his announcement that companies with 100 or more workers would be required to enforce coronavirus vaccinations and testing. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem responded within minutes of the president’s remarks, tweeting her state “will stand up to defend freedom. @JoeBiden, see you in court.”
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas chimed in Friday, tweeting: “Biden issued his unconstitutional, ineffective mandate because his poll numbers are down.”
Last month, the president’s job approval ratings plunged amid a messy U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan that critics charged was chaotic and mismanaged — especially with American citizens and allies in the 20-year war effort left behind. It now stands at 45.4% in the RealClearPolitics average. Republican 2024 contenders claim that is the reason behind Biden's implementation of a national vaccine mandate amid hesitancy to get the shot and a summer spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
"President Biden is so desperate to distract from his shameful, incompetent Afghanistan exit that he is saying crazy things and pushing constitutionally flawed executive orders,” Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in a statement.
“This is a cynical attempt to pick a fight and distract from the President's morally disgraceful decision to leave Americans behind Taliban lines on the 20th anniversary of 9/11,” Sasse added. “This isn't how you beat COVID, but it is how you run a distraction campaign — it's gross and the American people shouldn’t fall for it.”
Biden was initially hesitant, if not outright opposed, to mandating coronavirus vaccinations from Washington, although he always supported such action at the state and local level.
The president changed his tune after the increase in COVID-19 infections, delta variant diagnoses, and lingering resistance to the vaccine that sparked a rise in hospitalizations and deaths from the disease over the summer. This development contributed to Biden’s lower approval ratings. After all, he was elected partly because Americans were dissatisfied with former President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and expected the new president to get the pandemic under control.
Biden does not seem particularly concerned with the intense Republican criticism of his mandate order — or the accusations that he is playing politics.
“Have at it,” he told reporters Friday. “We’re playing for real here. This isn’t a game.”
As Trump mulls a third bid for the White House in 2024, several Republicans who hope to succeed him atop the GOP are already moving aggressively to lay the foundation for a campaign. Almost all of them, including Trump, have had something negative to say about Biden’s vaccine mandate.
“He doesn’t care about you or your freedoms,” Trump said in a fundraising email appeal issued to millions of his grassroots donors. “He just mandated the Covid vaccine for 80 MILLION Americans. The last time I checked, we live in a FREE Country.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence offered similar remarks during an interview on Fox & Friends, pointing to the skepticism of the coronavirus vaccine that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris expressed last year, citing their distrust of the Trump administration that was spearheading the development of the inoculation via Operation Warp Speed.
“They spent the whole last year undermining public confidence in the vaccine," Pence said.
The most oft-cited critique from Republicans seeking to succeed Biden in the Oval Office centered on the Constitution, executive authority, and the burden it places on employers. Under Biden’s executive order, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will enforce businesses to vaccinate and test employees. Republicans say the proposal is unconstitutional, an unlawful overreach, and onerous on businesses.
“The federal government has no authority to force businesses in Texas and across the country to mandate their employees get vaccinated,” said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the runner-up for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, in a statement. “It is cruel and burdensome to impose this authoritarian mandate.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — both up for reelection in 2022 but also considered potential 2024 contenders — echoed the comments of their possible future rival.
“The federal government needs to stop trying to run private businesses,” said Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze. “Our office has already reached out to the office of the attorney general to halt this power grab.”
DeSantis agreed, telling reporters in Florida: “How could we get to the point in the country where you would want to have someone lose their job because of their choice about the vaccine or not?”
Christian Datoc and Kaelan Deese contributed to this report.
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Original Author: David M. Drucker
Original Location: Republicans who want Biden's job assail federal vaccine mandate