Colorado Democrats on Wednesday called on U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert to apologize for "trivializing the Holocaust" with a recent tweet comparing the Biden administration's efforts to encourage COVID-19 vaccination with Nazism.
Boebert, the Silt Republican whose inflammatory remarks routinely result in trending topics on Twitter, called public health workers conducting door-to-door vaccination outreach "Needle Nazis" in a July 8 tweet that also likened the efforts to Chinese communism.
"Biden has deployed his Needle Nazis to Mesa County," Boebert tweeted. "The people of my district are more than smart enough to make their own decisions about the experimental vaccine and don't need coercion by federal agents. Did I wake up in Communist China?"
A spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party said Wednesday that it delivered a letter to Boebert's office signed by dozens of Boebert's "Jewish and non-Jewish constituents," as well as a handful of Jewish state lawmakers from elsewhere in the state.
The letter demanded an apology and retraction from Boebert.
“Let us be clear: trivializing the Holocaust to score cheap political points is insulting to the memory of those who were murdered, and that is what your statement calling public health workers 'Needle Nazis' has done," the letter said.
"It is insulting to Jewish people who live here in the United States, who live in Israel, and who live abroad as we combat anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish sentiment globally.”
Boebert's tweet linked to a video clip of White House press secretary Jen Psaki answering a question about "surge response teams" sent to areas with low vaccination rates, including a COVID-19 hotspot in Boebert's 3rd Congressional District.
"I know we had already deployed a team to Colorado to collaborate with the local Department of Health in Mesa County," Psaki said. "I can see if there is more, but we're in touch with a range of officials around the country."
At the time she sent the tweet, public health officials estimated that just 41% of eligible Mesa County residents were fully vaccinated, while 99.2% of the county's available hospital beds were occupied. Since early July, Mesa County has had the highest number of confirmed cases in the state of the highly contagious delta variant, officials have said.
The Associated Press reported that Psaki later clarified that the "team" deployed to Colorado for a few days in late June had been helping local health authorities investigate a high number of infections in long-term care facilities. She added that local church groups and other community organizations were the only ones going door-to-door with information about the vaccines.
"Those are the people who are the trusted messengers around the country. And we believe that we need to empower these individuals to continue to work in communities to make sure people know that these vaccines are safe, that they can save lives," Psaki said at a press briefing.
The letter comes days after U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who frequently breaks with his party, said that over-the-top rhetoric criticizing federal efforts to encourage vaccination was "absolute insanity."
Asked to comment Sunday on recent remarks by GOP lawmakers — including Boebert's "Needle Nazis" tweet — Kinzinger told CNN's Jake Tapper: "This is outrage politics that is being played by my party and it's going to get Americans killed."
Neither Boebert's congressional office nor her campaign staff responded to a request for comment from Colorado Politics.
The day after Boebert posted her tweet, the Auschwitz Museum tweeted a condemnation.
"Instrumentalization of the tragedy of all people who between 1933-45 suffered, were humiliated, tortured & murdered by the hateful totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany to argue against vaccination that saves human lives is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline," the museum's account said.
In addition, the Anti-Defamation League and the organization's Mountain States chapter asked Boebert to "stop using Nazi and Holocaust analogies."
"Doing so only insults and denigrates the memories of all those lost in the Shoah," the national group tweeted.