Jen Psaki defends Biden 'Neanderthal' reopening quip targeting Texas and Mississippi

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden’s “Neanderthal thinking” quip about states removing their mask mandates was an expression of his “frustration and exasperation.” 

She also denied that the Biden administration had taken its vaccination plan from the Trump playbook. 

A reporter in the briefing room noted that Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves “took offense” to Biden’s ‘Neanderthal’ remark. “Mississippians don’t need handlers,” he wrote on Twitter in response.  

“How does comparing someone to a Neanderthal convince them to change course?” the reporter asked Psaki. 

“The behavior of a Neanderthal, just to be very clear. The behavior of,” Psaki emphasized. She said his remarks were “a reflection of his frustration and exasperation.”

“People across the country have sacrificed, they haven’t had the information they need from the federal government. They haven’t had access to a greater understanding of what public health guidelines should look like. Those include many many people in Mississippi and Texas,” she continued. 

On Wednesday, Biden tore into the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi, both of whom announced they would be removing their mask mandates and allowing businesses to reopen at maximum capacity. 

“We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough [vaccines] for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot,” Biden told reporters from the White House Wednesday. “The last thing we need is the Neanderthal thinking.”

Another reporter asked about former Surgeon General Dr. Brett Giroir’s tweet claiming Biden’s vaccine plan was modeled after Trump. 

“I am so tired of the continuing lies that @potus inherited a #COVID19Vaccine mess, when in fact 99% of current vaccine manufacturing and distribution is EXACTLY as planned and explicitly described by Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed,” Giroir wrote on Twitter. 

“I don’t think anyone deserves credit when half a million people in the country have died of this pandemic,” Psaki responded when asked if Trump deserves credit. 

“There’s no question, and all data points to the fact, there were not enough of any of those things when he took office,” she continued. 

Psaki said the White House’s focus has been on ensuring there are enough vaccines, vaccinators and vaccine locations to go around. “There were not enough of any of those things when he [Biden] took office,” she said.  


Psaki again reiterated Biden’s “100-day” mask campaign, noting there were only “60 more days” to go after nearly 40 days of the new administration. 

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