Behind Trump's sudden COVID vaccine evangelism

“I think his actions all along suggested that he was a huge supporter of vaccines,” said Paul Mango, who was a top official in Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services and with Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s public-private partnership aimed at accelerating vaccine development. “And now his words are matching his actions.”

Trump’s effort to change the dialogue around vaccines may be part of a general-election strategy for taking on President Joe Biden in 2024, according to Trump advisers, former aides and administration officials. These allies don’t think there’s any downside to him promoting the shots and his administration’s efforts to accelerate their development in a GOP primary — one in which Trump would enter as the prohibitive favorite should he decide to run — even with surveys showing 30 to 40 percent of the Republican base declining so far to get vaccinated or saying they never will…

“He’s heard from a lot of people who’ve said, ‘Listen, you’ve done something that nobody could ever do and you should embrace it,’” said one person close to Trump, requesting anonymity to discuss private conversations with the former president. “It’s one of the great successes of his administration and he’s finally understood that it’s a great success.”