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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden backed down from his previous proposal for a national mask mandate and denied he ever suggested it.
Despite his vow just last month to implement a national mask mandate, Biden claimed Wednesday that he is “a constitutionalist” and would, instead, “put pressure” on officials and businesses to require protective face masks, pushing back on a question about the proposal he clearly made during his nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Regarding a federal mask mandate, Joe Biden backtracks, claiming now he is a “constitutionalist.” 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/Df1dCfawri
— George Revere (@george_revere) September 2, 2020
“No, no,” he said at a press conference Wednesday when asked about federally mandating the wearing of masks to protect against the coronavirus.
“What I suggested was, every person in authority — there’s a question whether or not a president, under the Constitution, could mandate everyone wear a mask,” Biden said.
BREAKING: In press conference this afternoon, Biden backed off the mask “mandate” he is touting in campaign ads, proposing instead that he will merely publicly “pressure” employers and local government officials to wear masks
— Paul Sperry (@paulsperry_) September 2, 2020
“And remember, all during the primary I’d have a lot of people telling me, ‘I would by executive order do.’ I’m a constitutionalist. You know, you can’t do things the Constitution doesn’t allow you the power to do,” he added.
“What I would be doing is putting as much pressure as I could on every governor, every senator — I mean, excuse me, every mayor, every county executive, every local official, and everyone in business, putting pressure on them to say, ‘What you’re doing is irresponsible. Make sure you wear a mask and maintain social distancing,’” the former vice president said.
But during his DNC speech, Biden was singing a very different tune as he made it clear there would be a federal mask mandate.
“We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask,” he said.
And ahead of the event, he had proposed a national mask mandate during a campaign speech event with his then-newly named vice presidential pick, Sen. Kamala Harris.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” the former vice president said. “Every governor should mandate mandatory mask-wearing. The estimates by the experts are it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months if people act responsibly. It’s not about your rights, it’s about your responsibilities as an American.”
Biden on pushing national mask mandate when outside: ‘It’s not about your rights’ https://t.co/xjwzOQdPhv via @BIZPACReview
— ☆Ophidian Pilot☆ (@ophidianpilot) August 14, 2020
Back in June, when asked if he would use “federal leverage” to mandate the wearing of protective face coverings, Biden responded, “Yes, I would from an executive standpoint, yes I would.”
Just last week, vice presidential nominee Harris told NBC that there wouldn’t necessarily be federal consequences for not wearing masks but that it is the “responsible” thing to do.
“Nobody’s gonna be punished. It’s a standard. Come on. Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling,” the California Democrat said. “The point is, this is what we, as responsible people who love our neighbor, we have to just do that right now.”
During Wednesday’s press conference, Biden also seemed to backtrack on his previous remarks about shutting down the economy if necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Apparently reacting to attacks on his response to a question about whether he would order shutdowns in the case of a new virus spike, Biden tried to clarify his position.
“There’s going to be no need in my view to be able to shut down the whole economy,” he said.
“I took that as a generic question, am I going to follow the science. I am going to insist, and I insist now without any authority, that every responsible person in this country, when they’re out in public or not with a cohort that they have lived with because they know they haven’t spread it, your husband, wife, et cetera, that they wear a mask,” he said, adding that people can remove their masks if they are “12 to 15 feet away” from others.
Biden’s waffling positions were slammed by social media users who called the Democrat and gave him another nickname.
Flip flop Joe.
— Bill (@BTJ7) September 2, 2020
“I didn’t say that, let me tell you what I meant. I meant exactly what I said”
— Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (@GabrielUtasi) September 2, 2020
— Kokomojoe (@Kokomojoe5) September 2, 2020
He’s an idiot. He’s running commercials in PA. Stating that he would federally mandate masks for everyone jeez
— SifuR (@rothrocke) September 2, 2020
From law to mandate to strong request to suggestion. What a leader
— EJG (@EJGSH) September 3, 2020
Of all the words I’d use to describe Joe Biden, constitutionalist is one I’d never ever even consider #liar
— Bat Too Tasty (@sassy_fontaine) September 3, 2020
— MikeDuffyWPLaw (@MikeDuffyWPLaw) September 2, 2020
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