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President Trump pushed back on questions about a national mandate on wearing masks and his own use of the protective face coverings during an ABC News town hall.
The president acknowledged that he does occasionally wear masks when needed but cited examples of people who “think that masks are not good” when questioned by a voter at the town hall event Tuesday in Philadelphia. He also addressed his comments to journalist Bob Woodward, asserting that he was “not looking to be dishonest” but did not want Americans to panic when he appeared to play down concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
A woman who identified herself as a Clinton voter asked the president why he often does not wear a mask personally, after stating that masks have been proven to help stop the spreading of the virus.
“Well I do wear them when I have to and when I’m in hospitals and other locations,” Trump said.
He called out his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, for proposing a national mask mandate but then realizing he would not have the authority to do so. Democrats also touted the need for a national policy requiring masks at their convention last month, the president noted.
“By the way, a lot of people don’t want to wear masks, a lot of people think that masks are not good,” Trump continued.
“Who are those people?” town hall host George Stephanopoulos asked.
(Source: ABC News)
“Well, I’ll tell you who those people are -waiters,” the president replied.
“They come over and they serve you and they have a mask, I saw it the other day when they were serving me,” he continued, recounting his own experience at a recent dinner when the server kept touching his face mask.
“They were playing with the mask. I’m not blaming them, I’m just saying it happens. They’re playing with the mask and so the mask is over and they’re touching it and then they’re touching the plate. That can’t be good,” he said.
“If you look at Dr. Fauci’s original statement,” Trump continued. “They said very strongly, George, don’t wear masks. Then, all of a sudden, they went to wear masks.”
In a later moment during the event, Stephanopoulos asked the president about his comments to Woodward during interviews for an upcoming book by the Watergate reporter. The president was heard in recordings saying “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
He later defended himself, explaining he was promoting calm and not lying to the American people.
“I understand that you don’t want to panic people,” Stephanopoulos said at the town hall. “You said you want people to be calm. You’ve talked about Winston Churchill and FDR and they did reassure people. They were strong. They did keep people calm, but they also were straight. They said, this war is going to be tough, it’s going to be a real fight.”
(Source: ABC News)
Trump pushed back, saying the UK prime minister during World war II “said, ‘You’re going to be safe, be calm, don’t panic.’ And you had bombers dropping bombs all over London.”
“So, I guess you could say that’s not so honest. but it’s still great leadership,” the president added.
“So you think it’s okay to be dishonest?” Stephanopoulos interjected.
“I’m not looking to be dishonest,” Trump responded. “I don’t want people to panic. and we are going to be okay. We’re going to be okay and it is going away and it’s probably going to go away now a lot faster because of the vaccine. It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it’s going to go away a lot faster.”
“It would go away without the vaccine?” the ABC News host asked.
“Sure, with time,” Trump replied as Stephanopoulos quipped, “and many deaths.”
“It’s going to be herd development and that’s going to happen, that will all happen,” the president asserted, noting the development of immunity in the nation as more people are exposed to the virus. “But with a vaccine, I think it will go away very quickly.”
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