President Joe Biden botched the numbers behind the COVID-19 vaccine rollout Thursday as he stretched to take all the credit for the surge of shots once he was in office.
A look at his remarks during a CNN town hall event:
BIDEN: “When I first was elected, there were only 2 million people who had COVID shots in the United States of America — and the vaccine. Now we got 190 million, because I went out and bought everything I could do and buy in sight and it worked.”
THE FACTS: No, that’s not how the vaccine rollout in the U.S. happened. Biden is overstating his part.
First, it’s not true that 2 million people had shots when he was elected in November. The COVID-19 vaccines were still awaiting emergency authorization then. The first shots were administered to the public in mid-December.
Nearly 16 million doses had been administered by Jan. 20, the day Biden took office. And Biden didn’t buy up all the doses — the Trump administration had purchased 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna in December, weeks before Biden was inaugurated.
The Trump administration’s vaccine plan fell short of its goals and suffered from disarray out of the gate. On Inauguration Day, less than half of the 36 million doses distributed to the states by the federal government had been administered.
Even so, the plan set the stage for an acceleration of vaccinations that did not happen solely because Biden “went out and bought everything I could do.”
BIDEN, asked why he hasn’t visited the U.S.-Mexico border as president: “I’ve been there before and I haven’t, I mean I know it well. I guess I should go down but the whole point of it is I haven’t had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down. I’ve been spending time going around looking at the $900 billion worth of damage done by hurricanes and floods and weather and traveling around the world. but I plan on — now, my wife Jill has been down. She’s been on both sides of the river.”
THE FACTS: Yes, Jill Biden has been to the border but not, as he implies, as the eyes and ears of a president consumed with crises.
She wasn’t first lady and he wasn’t president when she went to Brownsville, Texas, in December 2019 and walked across to Matamoros, Mexico, to hand out Christmas meals and toys to the families of asylum seekers and witness their living conditions.
Vice President Kamala Harris in June visited the U.S.-Mexico border and spent a half-day, touring a Customs and Border Protection processing center, meeting with migrant children there, visiting an intake center on the border and holding a roundtable with local service providers.
Harris’s trip came after months of criticism from Republicans and some in her own party over the absence of Biden and her from the border at a time when immigration officers had logged record numbers of encounters with migrants attempting to cross into the U.S.
Seitz reported from Columbus, Ohio. Darlene Superville in Washington and David Klepper in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.
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