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GRIMES, Iowa (LifeSiteNews) – Former President Donald Trump doubled down yet again on his support of the COVID-19 jabs this week, dismissing the concerns of an Iowa voter who suggested the controversial shots resulted in her community having “lost people.”

During a campaign stop in Grimes, Iowa, Trump spoke at an event where an audience member pressed him on “what were you thinking” or would “do different,” saying, “we have lost people because you supported the jab.” It is not clear if she was referring to lost lives due to vaccine-related deaths or lost jobs due to vaccine mandates.

“Everybody wanted a vaccine at that time,” Trump responded. “And I was able to do something that nobody else could have done, getting it done very, very rapidly. But I never was for mandates. I was, I thought the mandates were terrible, and you know, there’s a big portion of the country that thinks that was a great thing. You understand that. Not a lot of the people in this room, but there’s a big — but there is a big portion.”

“I had a man come up to me the other day, who is actually a Democrat, liberal guy, a friend of mine, and he said to me, I don’t even know if he voted for me to be honest, but he’s a friend of mine, smart guy, but very liberal. He said, why is it you never mention what you did with the vaccines? I said, ‘No thanks, I’m not going to be doing that right now,’” he joked.

The presidential campaign of Trump’s chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, highlighted the incident to contrast the two candidates, a continuation of the campaign’s efforts to emphasize Trump’s connections to the COVID establishment. The Trump campaign responded by reminding voters of DeSantis’s own early support of the shots.

Trump’s refusal to acknowledge evidence of the shots’ risks has long been one of the biggest points of contention with former supporters.

Since leaving office, he repeatedly promoted them as “one of the greatest achievements of mankind,” even accusing his hesitant supporters of “playing right into their [the Left’s] hands,” all the while stressing that he never supported mandating them. The negative reception to such comments got him to drop the subject for a while, though in July 2022 he complained that “we did so much in terms of therapeutics and a word that I’m not allowed to mention. 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.”

READ: FDA-sponsored study concedes Pfizer’s COVID shot increases risk of myocarditis in children

In January of this year, he dismissed potential safety issues by suggesting that “problems” were in “relatively small numbers,” while stressing that “some people say that I saved 100 million lives worldwide.” At the time, mRNA technology pioneer and prominent COVID establishment critic Dr. Robert Malone revealed that he once filmed a video meant to encourage Trump to change his mind on the subject, but it had “no impact.”

DeSantis too was an early supporter of the COVID vaccines, although the governor’s position has changed as more data about their harms has come to light. For more than a year, DeSantis and his administration have spoken about the ineffectiveness of the shots, and his administration began conducting its own studies, which concluded that they should not be taken by younger men. In December, the Florida Supreme Court approved DeSantis’s request for a grand jury investigation into the claims of the vaccines’ manufacturers.

As the former president who for months was the only declared major candidate, Trump holds a commanding lead in national polls for the GOP nomination, although DeSantis, who announced his anticipated candidacy on May 24, has the edge in fundraising and is competitive in state polls. Voting in the Republican primaries does not begin until next January with the Iowa caucuses.