Biden: 'You've Got to Get People to the Point Where They Trust Government'

By Susan Jones | July 22, 2021 | 5:37am EDT
President Joe Biden participates in a CNN Town Hall hosted by Don Lemon at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 21, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden participates in a CNN Town Hall hosted by Don Lemon at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 21, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( - At a CNN town hall Wednesday night, President Joe Biden plugged the safety and efficacy of the COVID vaccines and urged everyone eligible to get one.

Host Don Lemon told the president that even within his own family, there is "ambivalence," "misinformation" and "mistrust in the system." "How do you fix that?" Lemon asked Biden:

Biden, in his roundabout way, talked about uniting the country and restoring trust in government:

"Well, I think you're going to -- it's going to seem like a non-answer to start with," Biden responded to Lemon:

One of the things I said when I ran for office, it's not Democrat/Republican again, is we've got to restore faith in government. You've got to get people to the point where they trust government.

And I made a commitment that when I made a mistake, I'd tell you. I've made mistakes. And when I think I got it right, I'll say it. But I'll take responsibility for what I do and say. Part of it is just genuinely  (applause) no, I -- part of it is generally raising confidence in elected officials. Raising confidence.

And I know it's going to sound like a non-answer to you, but part of this is that, you know -- you know because you're one of the most informed journalists in the country. You know the criticism I got when I said I want to unite the country. They said, you can't unite the country.

Well, if you can't unite the country, we can never get some of these problems solved, and that goes to trust. Why can't you unite the country? Why isn't there a willingness to trust? Government trust is really at a -- was at an incredibly low ebb. It's coming up some.

So with regard to your family in particular, part of it is, not just that they see you on television and trust you, the people who seem to have the most impact are -- you know, for that 17-year-old kid, the kid he or she plays ball with. 'You got the vaccination?' 'Are you -- are you okay?' 'I mean, you seem -- "No, it works. '

Or, you know, or -- or -- or the mom and dad or -- or -- or the neighbor or when you go to church, or when you're -- no, I -- I -- I really mean it. There are trusted interlocutors.

Think of the people -- if your kid wanted to find out whether or not there were -- there's a man on the moon or whatever, you know, something, or you know, whether those aliens are here or not. You know, who are the people they talk to beyond the kids who love talking about it? They go to people they respect. And they say, what do you think? And so they should be asking other people, the people -- everything from their teachers, to their ministers, to their priests, to people that they trust.

Lemon asked Biden if part of the problem is that young people, those under 40, feel invincible, but now they're realizing that the delta variant may indeed threaten their health:

Biden said he thinks that is happening: "Now they're looking around. They're saying, whoa. Boy, in the community I live in, there's a very few people that have gotten the vaccination. This COVID is much more transmissible. It's really rising. I'd better get some -- so I think it's gradually changing."

'This is not a pandemic'

Biden told the town hall that vaccinated people are not going to be hospitalized (although that may not be true, according to his COVID advisers).

"You're not going to be in an ICU unit. And you are not going to die. So it's gigantically important we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans,” Biden said.

"There's legitimate questions people can ask if they worry about getting vaccinated but the question should be asked, answered and people should get vaccinated, but this is not a pandemic. We've made sure that since I got in office, we've inoculated over 160 million people. 85 percent of people over the age of 50.

The president also predicted that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is going to recommend face masks for returning students under the age of 12 and for older students who are not vaccinated.


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