Joe Biden Praises Alabama Governor After 'Blaming the Unvaccinated' Comments

President Joe Biden praised Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Friday following her remarks about blaming unvaccinated people for the recent surge in cases of COVID-19.

Biden was speaking in Arlington, Virginia in support of Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, who is seeking a second term in November of this year. He directly referenced Ivey as part of his discussion of the pandemic.

On Thursday, Ivey, who is a Republican, told reporters that it was time to start "blaming the unvaccinated folks" for the rise in COVID cases. Her state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation at just 33.9 percent.

Biden said on Thursday: "What we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

"A lot of our very conservative friends have finally had an altar call. They've seen the Lord," he said.

"Whether it's on Fox News or whether it's the most conservative commentators or governors," Biden said.

A number of prominent Republicans have recently urged Americans to take the vaccine following criticism that some in the GOP weren't doing enough to tackle vaccine hesitancy.

The president singled out Ivey for praise while highlighting the low vaccination uptake in her state.

Biden takes note of Republicans’ increased calls for vaccinations in recent days: “A lot of our very conservative friends have had an altar call. They’ve seen the lord.”

Specifically calls out Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey: “I’m genuinely complimenting her.”

— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) July 24, 2021

"Thank God the governor of Arkansas - excuse me, of Alabama - had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country - is now, and I'm genuinely complimenting her..." Biden said but was interrupted by hecklers.

"This is not a Trump rally, let 'em holler. No-one's paying attention to them," he said of the hecklers.

Ivey addressed Alabama's low vaccination rate in remarks in Birmingham on Thursday. She was attending the opening of the new headquarters of Landing, a company that builds fully furnished apartments.

"Let's be crystal clear about this issue," the governor said. "The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100 percent of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain."

Ivey went on to say: "Folks are supposed to have common sense.

"But it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the vaccinated folks. It's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down. I've done all I know how to do. I can encourage you to do something but I can't make you take care of yourself," she said.

The governor called vaccines "the greatest weapon we have to fight COVID" and urged people to get the shot.

Biden also offered a strong endorsement of Governor McAuliffe on Friday. The governor is running against Republican Glenn Youngkin, whom the president firmly associated with former President Donald Trump.

"I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry," Biden said.

"The guy Terry's running against is an acolyte of Donald Trump for real," the president added.

Newsweek has asked the White House and Governor Kay Ivey's office for comment.

Biden Speaks at a McAuliffe Campaign Event
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) at the Lubber Run Community Center on July 22, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. Biden praised Alabama Governor Kay Ivey for her recent comments on vaccinations. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images