President Joe Biden said children under 12 and all unvaccinated students will be required to wear masks at school when the Centers for Disease Control issues new guidelines, while he urged people to get vaccinated Wednesday night at a CNN town hall.
He said tackling misinformation online was one of his top priorities and said he was pleased with the way vaccine skeptics on Fox News had turned around in recent days.
The event, hosted by Don Lemon, was held in an area of Cincinnati that heavily voted for former President Trump, giving Biden the opportunity to reach out to the country’s divisions and speak directly to voters.
His first question, from a school board member, asked for his message to parents concerned about protecting children who are too young for vaccines.
“The CDC is going to say what we need to do is everyone under the age of 12 should probably wear a mask in school, that’s probably what’s going to happen,” he said.
“Second, those over the age of 12 who can get vaccinated if you’re vaccinated shouldn’t wear a mask if you haven’t been vaccinated, you should wear a mask.”
President Biden brought his messages about vaccines, infrastructure and the economy to Trump-supporting Ohio in front of a CNN City Hall in Cincinnati
Biden said he was pleased with the way vaccine skeptics on Fox News changed their tone, although he referred to “one of those other networks that aren’t a big fan of mine.”
But his bigger message was to follow the science and trust the vaccines.
He expanded on the topic when a Republican-voted pediatrician said she was concerned about the impact of misinformation on social media.
Twelve people he believes were responsible for most of the misinformation he said online, reiterating a White House talking point.
“They’re killing people who are 12 individuals,” he said. “That misinformation is going to kill people, no joke, no joke.”
Then he brought good news about “one of those other networks that isn’t a big fan of mine” – an obvious reference to Fox News.
“If you see, as they say, in the southern part of my state, they had some of those guys call an altar,” he said.
Suddenly they say we should get vaccinated. The same people who said before…’
He interrupted himself with a smile.
“But I’m not allowed to joke,” he said. ‘It’s good, it’s good.
Sean Hannity, one of the network’s top stars, has urged viewers to get vaccinated.
And this week, while discussing the deaths of unvaccinated people, Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy also told viewers, “Get the shot, it will save your life.”
The audience — all of whom Lemon said had been vaccinated — responded warmly when Biden took the stage, even in what appears to be heavily pro-Trump territory.
Questions included what he was doing to address gun violence and his plans to replace crumbling infrastructure, a hot topic in Cincinnati, where the aging Brent Spence Bridge is often closed to traffic.
He also took the opportunity to recap talking points familiar to anyone who tunes in to one of his video addresses, but may not have been seen by busy, working families.
A rise in consumer prices would be temporary, he promised, adding that his economic plan would reduce inflation in the long run.
Ohio was once a major swing state that could deliver the White House from one candidate to another. But in recent years it has moved firmly to the red column.
Biden’s visit reflects his abiding belief that he can bridge America’s political divides by appealing directly to voters.
“Half the life shows up, and Joe Biden shows up,” John Anzalone, the pollster for Biden’s presidential campaign, told the Associated Press.
U.S. President Joe Biden talks to Robert Guthrie, instructor and IBEW Local 212 Journeyman Wireman, and student Nicholas Patton at an IBEW/NECA electrician training center in Cincinnati, Ohio
Biden’s visit recalls how the president believes he can avoid the country’s dividing lines by connecting directly with voters in Republican states like Ohio
“He becomes a president for people who voted for him and people who voted against him.”
The state faces particularly lively elections next year following the retirement of Senator Rob Portman, one of the more centrist Republicans involved in negotiating the $973 billion bipartisan infrastructure plan now at stake.
Republicans are more focused on violent crime and the increase in migrants on the southern border.
“President Joe Biden will visit a major city suffering devastating levels of violent crime caused by the failed leadership of Democrat Mayor John Cranley,” Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Paduchik said before the visit.
Outside the city hall in Cincinnati, Biden visited a training center for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to discuss his policies to create union jobs.
“The alarm is going off, we’re going for a run,” he joked as he entered an area where students are taught how to install and repair fire alarms.
He met an apprentice and heard about training programs.
Biden said that “unions are the best” when it comes to training, saying they have “built up the middle class.”