Sarah Palin and Donald Trump shake hands at a 2016 rally.Mary Altaffer, File/AP

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“Vaccine” is not a four-letter word, but don’t expect it to escape Trump’s lips anytime soon.

The former president tiptoed around the word last night at an Alaska rally in support of right-wing Republican candidates, including former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is running for the state’s lone House seat. Trump attempted to take credit for the speed of vaccine development while taking a not-so-subtle dig at his base.

“We did so much in terms of therapeutics and a word that I’m not allowed to mention,” he said, “But I’m still proud of that word, because we did that in nine months, and it was supposed to take five years to 12 years. Nobody else could have done it, but I’m not mentioning it in front of my people.”

About 63 percent of Alaskans are fully vaccinated, but the percent of Republicans fully vaccinated is likely lower; nationwide, counties that voted for Trump in 2020 tend to have lower vaccination rates than those that voted for Biden. Trump might have been avoiding butting heads with Palin, who has said that she would get a Covid vaccine “over my dead body.”

Trump didn’t extend that same cautiousness to the rest of his speech. He called Leon—no, Elon—Musk a “bullshit artist.” He called Sen. Lisa Murkowski—a moderate Alaska Republican who voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial—a “RINO” and “worse than a Democrat.” And in a rant about ISIS, he uttered a rare f-bomb, saying that he would “hit them in the fucking center.”

Trump may not actually care about whether his supporters are protected from Covid, but he suggested that one day, they might come around to see the greatness of his accomplishments. On the vaccine issue, he said, “Someday, we’re gonna have to all sit down and have a little talk.”

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