Trump, away from the Presidents Club, excluded from his predecessors’ public service announcement


Discussions about Trump’s involvement in the venue never gained ground given his departure from the Presidents Club at the end of his term and the bitter way he left Washington on inauguration day, people familiar with the matter said.

It was a conversation that day in January between former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama that formed the basis of the vaccination campaign, which debuted Thursday. Because Trump made the decision not to join his predecessors at that historic moment, a person close to the project said, he was not asked to participate in the public service announcement.

Trump expressed little interest in joining his predecessors in promoting the vaccine, and the team that organized the PSA did not consider it likely that the 45th president would participate, leaving little opportunity for his inclusion.

“He has shown no signs of wanting to be included in these kinds of moments,” an aide to a former president told CNN.

A multitude of reasons

All Living Ex-Presidents Except Trump Urge Americans To Get Vaccinated In New Ad Campaign

There doesn’t appear to be a single reason for Trump’s exclusion, said a person involved in the production, but rather the feeling that his involvement was never a real possibility.

An Ad Council spokesperson, which produced the ad, said it “was something that started with former presidents while President Trump was still in office” when asked why Trump was not included.

Trump spokesmen did not respond to questions about why he was not involved.

When he was in office, Trump administration officials discussed how and when he might receive a coronavirus vaccine, including the ability to do so on camera. However, Trump himself did not seem particularly eager to be seen getting the vaccine, said a person familiar with the situation, even though he was touting its development and wanted to take credit for it.

A former Trump administration official said the former president was also very sensitive to his image after being hospitalized with Covid and did not seem receptive to any photo shoots that could show his health and fitness again.

There was also discussion at the time that Ivanka Trump was publicly shot, an idea that did not materialize either. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence were the highest-profile Trump administration officials to be seen receiving the vaccine.

Both Trump and former first lady Melania Trump received the coronavirus vaccine in January at the White House, but did not disclose the fact until weeks after leaving Washington. On Wednesday, before the ad ran, Trump issued a statement claiming credit for the vaccine.

In the ads, former presidents describe 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.” Obama says he misses visiting his mother-in-law and says he wants to “hug her and see her on her birthday.” And Bush says he’s “really looking forward to going to Opening Day at Texas Rangers Stadium with a packed stadium.”

Former President Jimmy Carter does not speak on camera, but the 96-year-old Democrat says during the spot that he is going to be vaccinated “because we want this pandemic to end as soon as possible.”

The ad ends with the four former presidents urging Americans to get vaccinated while showing images of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Barack and Michelle Obama, George and Laura Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton getting their shots.

‘Amazing work’

Embittered, Trump skips a chance to say high-profile, flamboyant goodbye

Almost a year ago Trump was asked if he would consult with former presidents on how to handle the pandemic, a practice that was once common for presidents facing large-scale crises.

“I think we’re doing an amazing job. So I don’t want to upset you, upset you,” he said at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. “I don’t think I’m going to learn much and, you know, I guess you could say there’s probably a natural inclination not to call.”

The answer was not a surprise. Trump made little attempt to disguise his dislike for his predecessors while in office, even going as far as removing the Clinton and Bush portraits from their prominent location in the White House lobby and moving them to a secluded room used for storage.

Those portraits have been moved to their original location under Biden, who has shown a desire to cultivate a more functional relationship with his predecessors. He said during a CNN town hall earlier this year that he had spoken to all living ex-presidents except one, presumably Trump, although he did not name him.

“Everyone with one exception picked up the phone and called me,” he told Anderson Cooper.

Those kinds of inquiries were mostly absent during Trump’s tenure, who rarely spoke to the men who held office before him. The only time the group gathered for the funeral of former President George HW Bush at the Washington National Cathedral, it was a somewhat cold reception.

Trump further broke the precedent by boycotting Biden’s inauguration, choosing instead to depart Washington on the morning of January 20 with a ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.

He left a note for Biden, which the president described as “very generous,” but has otherwise slammed his successor in remarks released from his Florida headquarters.

CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.

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