Former US president Donald Trump was booed at a rally on Saturday for calling on his followers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I recommend — take the vaccines. I did it, it’s good, take the vaccines,” he said, as some people in the crowd booed. “That’s okay, that’s alright, you got your freedoms, but I happened to take the vaccine. If it doesn’t work, you’ll be the first to know.”
The former president was speaking to supporters in Cullman, Alabama, a state with record-low vaccination rates. While 60% of the US population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, just 47% of those in Alabama have done so.
Trump, who left office in January after being defeated by US President Joe Biden, also slammed his successor’s handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden is essentially implementing a deal that Trump agreed to before leaving office.
“He failed totally on the pandemic and he’s now overseeing the greatest foreign policy humiliation in the history of the United States of America,” Trump told the crowd. “This is the greatest humiliation I’ve ever seen — Biden’s botched exit in Afghanistan is the most astonishing display of gross incompetence by a nation’s leader perhaps at any time that anybody’s ever seen.”
Trump suggested that he could have handled the situation more smoothly.
WATCH: During a speech on Saturday night, Former President Trump recommended that everyone take the COVID-19 vaccine.
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— FOX Carolina News (@foxcarolinanews) August 22, 2021
“It didn’t have to happen,” he suggested. “All [Biden] had to do was leave the soldiers there until everything’s out — our citizens, our weapons — then you bomb the hell out of the bases, we have five bases, and you say bye-bye.”
Trump added that the US withdrawal “will go down as one of the great military defeats of all time and it did not have to happen that way. This is not a withdrawal, this was a total surrender.”
Trump’s administration originally signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020. Biden says the deal signed by his predecessor bound him to withdraw US troops, setting the stage for the chaos engulfing the country.
Analysts say that Biden could have withdrawn from the accord if Afghan peace talks failed, but he chose not to. The president has continued to defend US actions in exiting Afghanistan, leading to a stunning Taliban takeover of the country in a matter of days.
“The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” Biden said last week.
“The choice I had to make, as your president, was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season,” Biden said during a live address to the nation last Monday.
Other analysts said the original peace deal with the Taliban was weak and ineffectual, and heavily weighted toward the Taliban.