Calm GOP Congressman Battles RAGING Cuomo on Right to Vax

Chris “Fredo” Cuomo was back from vacation Monday and CNN’s Prime Time was every bit a clown show it always was. For much of the program, the emotionally chafed Cuomo shouted and screamed about people who chose to take the risk and not get vaccinated. And even though Fredo claimed he didn’t want to “shame” people, he railed against them for making a stupid, dumb, and wrong decision. Luckily, Florida Congressman Byron Donalds (R) was there to be the calm and reasonable voice.

Besides lying about not wanting to shame people, Fredo also suggested he didn’t hate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who did a far better job at keeping his elderly resident alive compared to Fredo’s brother, New Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). And Cuomo’s animosity towards Republicans was on full display as he took it out on Donalds, accusing him of being responsible for getting Floridians sick and killed.

Do you feel responsible for spreading a message where ‘I’m not going to take it because I don’t care what Biden wants? Byron Donalds is not going to take it because he doesn’t care what Biden wants.’ You think that is a good message for people to hear,” he sneered.

What Cuomo was doing was deceptively taking a quote Donalds had given a reporter out of context to make it seem as though it was from an official statement on not getting vaccinated, which kicked off this exchange:

DONALDS: Well, the first thing is my message was never about Joe Biden. The message is about me and my own personal health. I’m 42 years old. I’ve had COVID already.

CUOMO (shouting over him): “I’m not getting vaccinated because I don’t want to—“

DONALDS: Hold on Chris.

CUOMO: I want to read your words.

DONALDS: Hold on. I didn’t cut you off. Don’t cut me off.

CUOMO: Byron, you don’t get to cut me off. It’s my show.

DONALDS: All right.

CUOMO: Just listen. “It has nothing to do with what Joe Biden wants.” “It has nothing to do with what Joe Biden wants.” Funny. I never brought him up when I was deciding whether to get vaccinated. Why did you?

DONALDS: A reporter asked me on a news show and I said it has nothing to do with what he wants. I chose not to get vaccinated because I chose not to vaccinated. I already had COVID-19 once. I’m 42 years old, I’m in very good health, and I actually get checkups and do those things. That’s a personal decision for myself.

Members of my family, my wife and three kids all had COVID. They’re not getting vaccinated. They are all healthy. That is a decision they have chosen to make.

Donalds then proceeded to encourage people to go get vaccinated. “If people in the United States are concerned about contracting and being hospitalized and dying, of course, from COVID-19, please go get vaccinated,” he said. “I will never tell you not to get vaccinated.”

Fredo’s response was to decry the Republican’s idea of freedom. “Freedom isn’t just defined as the bold and ability to be strong and wrong. It’s about doing the right thing, the best thing,” he chided.

After a brief back and forth about what the freedom of choice actually meant, Fredo got disgustingly personal as he ignored his guest’s previous urging for people to get vaccinated and suggested he was fine with others getting sick:

Everybody should know that about you, Byron Donalds. You are not telling people to get vaccinated. You are not pushing it. You are not saying it is the right choice. You’re saying you’re not doing and your family is not and leaving out of the equation that you can make other people sick as if that doesn’t matter. Okay?

“Chris, did you not just hear my answer 30 seconds ago? Where I said if you want to be protected from these variants and the original strain go get vaccinated. I promote you to do that,” the Congressman pushed back. “I just told you live on your own show that if you want to get vaccinated, America, go do it.”

And with Fredo haunting him about whether or not he spoke to a doctor about not getting vaccinated, Donalds laid out his experience. “Now, to me personally, I did talk to a couple doctors I know about it and I told them I already had it and I am 42. What do you think? They said yeah you’re fine. If that is what you want to do go ahead and do it,” he said, noting that others also had access to the vaccines.

“Go get the vaccine. I would never tell anybody not to get vaccinated. I do totally support it if that is what someone chooses to do. I don’t know why this is hard. It is that simple,” he added, much to Fredo’s chagrin because it went against his narrative.

Fredo concluded the interview with some snide comments hoping Donalds and his family didn’t get sick.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time
July 26, 2021
9:21:37 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS CUOMO: All right. We know what’s happening in the country. We know the delta variant is doing exactly what we were afraid it was going to do especially if we didn’t get vaccinated, which we haven’t in a way that is protecting us. Not enough. Not even close. And one of the great test cases for that is Florida. The way Florida goes, most of this country may follow. Let’s bring in Republican Congressman Byron Donalds. Good to see you. How is your family?

REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): They’re doing great. Good to see you.

CUOMO: Good. Problems down there with the variant. Is there a reason for it in your mind that is different from the obvious?

DONALDS: Well, look. What we’ve seen is the delta variant is a little bit more contagious than the original strain but you have to remember 85 percent of our senior citizens are fully vaccinated in Florida. It was a priority of the governor, Governor DeSantis and of our state government to make sure that senior citizens had all the access necessary to get vaccinated. That has occurred at an 85 percent. It starts to drop off as you start going into younger ages. And I think it is also important to understand, Chris, that when you look at different groups that are not getting vaccinated, black Americans, Hispanic Americans are getting vaccinated at lower rates —

CUOMO: True.

DONALDS: — than white Americans and Asian Americans.

So, I think it is important to understand that you have an ethnic component, unfortunately, but you also have to understand the age component which is the most important thing that senior citizens in Florida by and large have been vaccinated and have full access to getting vaccines.

CUOMO: But, you know that is not the end of the story. Look, I get why you say it. It is certainly important from a lethality standpoint. Nobody is as vulnerable to die as the elderly, so good. But, you know that is not the full story. There is a politicizing of this, yes, you’re right. Certain ethnic minorities don’t. Why? You have access and you also have generations of distrust for different reasons about what’s happened with the government interplay in their lives before, true or not true. But I’m talking about something else.

The reason has to be, part of the reason that you’re seeing what you’re seeing in Florida is because the vaccine hesitancy and an aspect of vaccine hesitancy is politics especially in your state. Don’t Fauci Florida. We all know what that was about.

Do you feel responsible for spreading a message where “I’m not going to take it because I don’t care what Biden wants. Byron Donalds is not going to take it because he doesn’t care what Biden wants.” You think that is a good message for people to hear?

DONALDS: Well, the first thing is my message was never about Joe Biden. The message is about me and my own personal health. I’m 42 years old. I’ve had COVID already.

CUOMO (shouting over him): “I’m not getting vaccinated because I don’t want to—“

DONALDS: Hold on Chris.

CUOMO: I want to read your words.

DONALDS: Hold on. I didn’t cut you off. Don’t cut me off.

CUOMO: Byron, you don’t get to cut me off. It’s my show.

DONALDS: All right.

CUOMO: Just listen. “It has nothing to do with what Joe Biden wants.” “It has nothing to do with what Joe Biden wants.” Funny. I never brought him up when I was deciding whether to get vaccinated. Why did you?

DONALDS: A reporter asked me on a news show and I said it has nothing to do with what he wants. I chose not to get vaccinated because I chose not to vaccinated. I already had COVID-19 once. I’m 42 years old, I’m in very good health, and I actually get checkups and do those things. That’s a personal decision for myself.

Members of my family, my wife and three kids all had COVID. They’re not getting vaccinated. They are all healthy. That is a decision they have chosen to make.

CUOMO: You ask your doctor?

DONALDS: Hold on, here’s the key thing you need to understand, if people in the United States are concerned about contracting and being hospitalized and dying, of course, from COVID-19, please go get vaccinated. I will never tell you not to get vaccinated. What I’m saying is I made a decision not to get vaccinated. And it doesn’t matter if it’s you or Joe Biden or anybody else that’s going to stress or want me to get it I’m not doing it because I made that decision as a free person.

CUOMO: Hold on, Byron. That doesn’t make you a free person. All right? Freedom isn’t just defined as the bold and ability to be strong and wrong. It’s about doing the right thing, the best thing. You say if people are worried about getting sick or dying then they should get vaccinated. What about if people are worried about giving COVID-19 or a variant to others which you very well could do. You could be doing it right now and not know. Doesn’t that matter?

DONALDS: But you just said that people who have actually gotten vaccinated and may have picked up the variant that the actual symptoms are very, very mild if any exist at all. There is a member of Congress just came back. He tested positive and he actually had been vaccinated earlier this year. He is back and he is fine. Talked to him earlier today.

CUOMO (Shouting over him): Because he was vaccinated, Byron. You just made my point. That is the point.

DONALDS: You make the wrong point. You are making the point that everybody has to get vaccinated in order to protect everybody. What I am saying is that if Americans want to get vaccinated, if they want to be protected from COVID-19 whether the delta variant or the new lambda variant coming through our southern border as we speak; if you want to get protected from that go get the vaccine. I fully promote you doing that—

CUOMO (Shouting over him): But if you don’t get it, other people are vulnerable to you.

DONALDS: — but at the same time if there are Americans who don’t want to get it they shouldn’t be forced to do so.

CUOMO: But see, that is the thing. It is a false choice. This isn’t about you won’t force me.

DONALDS: It is not a false choice.

CUOMO: It is.

DONALDS: It is the accurate choice, Chris. It is not false.

CUOMO: It’s not an accurate choice. Nobody is forcing anybody. You’re trying to push it to where people have to be forced and you’re seeing it as a position of strength and advantage.

DONALDS: Oh, no. You are the one pushing it not me. I’m not trying to push it.

CUOMO: Well, there’s no question that you’re not pushing a vaccine. Everybody should know that about you, Byron Donalds. You are not telling people to get vaccinated. You are not pushing it. You are not saying it is the right choice. You’re saying you’re not doing and your family is not and leaving out of the equation that you can make other people sick as if that doesn’t matter. Okay?

DONALDS: Chris, did you not just hear my answer 30 seconds ago? Where I said if you want to be protected from these variants and the original strain go get vaccinated. I promote you to do that.

CUOMO: What about other people?

DONALDS: I just told you live on your own show that if you want to get vaccinated, America, go do it. But if there are Americans like myself who choose not to please do not berate me for doing that. That is a personal choice I have made for my own health care. I am allowed and entitled to do that.

CUOMO: Here’s the thing Byron, you are absolutely right you have a right to do it. Two different statement. Okay? Do you have the right? Of course. Nobody is debating except you guys as a false choice.

What I am saying is, is it right to do it? Have you spoken to a doctor? You are supposed to be a leader. Have you talked to the CDC and the people in Florida at the Department of Health about whether or not they think you made a good choice? Because if your answer is just then “I don’t care what they say. This is me. I’m an American.” That is being dumb as a proxy for being bold.

And I don’t think it is a good message because remember it is not just you protecting yourself. It is you protecting me and other people from you. That’s why you get vaccinated not just for yourself. Important distinction. Go ahead.

DONALDS: Actually the way vaccines work are to protect yourself. A vaccine basically gives you a special cocoon where you actually limit the worst harmful effects of the virus itself or may not get it all together depending on your own personal physiology. So, that is the way vaccines work.

Now, to me personally, I did talk to a couple doctors I know about it and I told them I already had it and I am 42. What do you think? They said yeah you’re fine. If that is what you want to do go ahead and do it. They didn’t come and say no, no you have to do it because of everybody else. Because if other people want to be protected they have access to vaccines.

Go get the vaccine. I would never tell anybody not to get vaccinated. I do totally support it if that is what someone chooses to do. I don’t know why this is hard. It is that simple.

CUOMO: Listen, I totally agree with you. It is very simple. I think you’re making it hard. Cause you’re seeing some kind of righteousness and a choice to do something that doesn’t make a lot of sense. But again, that’s your right.

What I am saying is something else. You are wrong about how vaccines work. You are only giving part of the prophylaxis. Okay? The other part to why you take the vaccine is it also reduces – not completely, nothing is perfect and certainly, this vaccine is not – but it also reduces your ability to communicate the virus. And make other people infected. That part matters, too.

Listen, brother. I tell you the same thing every time I talk to you. I wish you well and I respect you as a leader. I hope you don’t get sick again and I hope your family does not as well. I would never want anything else for you. God bless you, your wife, and your kids.

I am just saying the numbers are going up down in Florida for a reason. They are going up down there for a reason and it is not just because of the randomness of the variant otherwise you guys wouldn’t be getting hit worse. That’s all.

You’re always welcome here. I know I interrupt a little bit. I’m passionate and I’m scared. I’m worried about this. But Congressman, I respect you coming on the show.

DONALDS: Of course. Any time. Be safe.

CUOMO: Be well. And be safe.

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