Trump,Biden Trade Barbs on Virus,Masks 08/14 06:17
President Donald Trump is attacking Joe Biden for calling on governors to
mandate that all Americans wear masks for the next three months, accusing the
Democratic presidential candidate of politicizing an issue Trump himself has
used for political gain in recent months.
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- President Donald Trump is attacking Joe Biden for
calling on governors to mandate that all Americans wear masks for the next
three months, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of politicizing an
issue Trump himself has used for political gain in recent months.
Trump claimed Biden has been wrong about the coronavirus pandemic at every
turn, "ignoring the scientific evidence and putting left-wing politics before
facts and evidence." Trump went on to falsely say that Biden was advocating for
the president to use executive power to institute a nationwide mask mandate and
that Biden was in favor of "locking all Americans in their basements for months
"To Joe, I would say stop playing politics with the virus," the Republican
president said at a White House press briefing.
Biden did not call for an executive order, but he did at an earlier campaign
event call for the institution of "a mask mandate nationwide, starting
immediately." Biden clarified, however, that it should be left up to the
governors to make mask-wearing mandatory. He said nothing about keeping
Americans indoors, but he has argued that economic reopenings in states have
been rushed and without proper guidance from the federal government to keep
Trump spent the early months of the pandemic refusing to wear a mask during
public appearances, ridiculing reporters who wore them and retweeting messages
making fun of Biden for wearing a mask and implying that he looked weak. Trump
first wore a mask in public about a month ago, during a visit to a military
hospital, and he has since expressed support for them at times.
On Thursday, he said it's patriotic for Americans to wear masks, but he
added, "maybe they're great, and maybe they're just good. Maybe they're not so
Biden, at his earlier event, said all Americans should wear masks, citing
health experts' predictions that it could save 40,000 lives from the
coronavirus over the next three months. The Democratic presidential candidate
also responded to those who push back against such mandates.
"This is America. Be a patriot," he said. "Protect your fellow citizens.
Step up. Do the right thing."
The back-and-forth marked a new line of attack from Trump, who is trailing
Biden significantly in most nationwide and swing state surveys. Biden has made
what he says is Trump's mishandling of the pandemic --- which has now caused
the deaths of at least 167,000 people in the United States --- a centerpiece of
his attacks on the president.
While Trump has charged that if Biden were elected he would cause everything
from a stock market crash to a surge of crime in the suburbs, he has largely
avoided taking Biden on when it comes to the pandemic, choosing instead to
deflect blame for the deaths and economic damage.
On Wednesday, when the U.S. reported 1,499 new coronavirus deaths, the
highest number in a day since May, Trump pushed for schools and businesses to
continue opening and called for college football to go on despite several
leading leagues deciding to cancel this year's season.
On Thursday, he again dismissed critics who say he was too slow to react to
the pandemic in the U.S., claiming on Fox Business Network that "nobody blames
"Look, we got hit by the China plague, and we're not going to forget it," he
said, "We got hit by the China plague."