As part of the general strategy to take back the majority in the House of Representatives and recapture the majority in the Senate, Republicans believe that vaccine passports should not be mandated as they violate personal privacy rights and would be a product of government overreach by exerting too much public control over private lives, The Hill reports.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared it was “unacceptable” for local governments or businesses to require proof of vaccination for people to “participate in normal society.” DeSantis also signed an executive order recently banning any future vaccine certificate requirements in Florida. He also suggested that the Republican controlled state legislature draft a bill turning his executive order into state law.
“It’s a political winner,” Ford O’Connell, a Florida-based Republican strategist, said. “They look at it as an all-out assault on personal freedoms and the Constitution, but also, it’s about protecting the average, ordinary Floridian who wants to live their regular day-to-day lives,” as reported by the Hill.
GOP strategists are positioning campaigns on the proposition that vaccine passports could help them play on voters’ fears of government overreach and privacy violations.
The White expected the private sector to take the lead on verification of vaccine passports and would not issue a federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential, according to Reuters. However, the Biden administration was reviewing the issue and would make recommendations, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday, but she added, “We believe it will be driven by the private sector.”
“It’s not a COVID discussion for Republicans. It is a freedom discussion. It’s a role-of-government discussion,” one GOP strategist said. “Would I prefer to be having a COVID discussion next year? No. But we want to be having that freedom discussion.”
If strategists are correct, this position taken by Republicans on vaccine passports may put them over-the-top in their quest to recover the majority in both houses of Congress as they only need five seats in the House and only one in the Senate to seize the majority.
Not all in the GOP are confident that opposition to vaccine passports will be a winning issue.
“It’s red meat for the base, sure, but this doesn’t help us win back the middle,” one veteran GOP campaign aide reported to the Hill. “It’s just more of the culture wars ... and it also means talking about COVID instead of the damage being done by Democrats.”
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, concluded on a “Utah Politics” podcast Friday that it should be an optional business issue and not a government one.
Since Trump has yet to weigh in about vaccine passports, some Republicans deferred their agreement until Trump addresses the topic, reports the Hill.