Trump criticizes Biden at town hall for not issuing a national mask mandate — but Biden as a candidate has no authority to do so

President Donald Trump's healthcare agenda includes lowering prescription drug prices and tackling surprise medical bills.Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump called out his Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden, for not implementing a national mask mandate, though Biden has no authority to do so as a candidate.
  • "They said, 'We're going to do a national mandate on masks,'" Trump said Tuesday evening at an ABC News town hall. "But he didn't do it, I mean, he never did it."
  • Biden has expressed support for universal mask-wearing, while Trump has shut down consideration of the idea.
  • Trump defended his stance by arguing that "a lot of people don't want to wear masks."

President Donald Trump criticized his Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden, on Tuesday evening for failing to enforce a national mask mandate — but Biden, as a candidate, has no authority to do so.

Trump leveled the attack after being asked by a voter during an ABC News town hall why he had not supported universal mask-wearing.

"A good question is, you ask, like Joe Biden. They said, 'We're going to do a national mandate on masks,'" Trump said Tuesday evening. "But he didn't do it, I mean, he never did it."Advertisement

Trump was referring to a policy promise that Biden stressed last month as part of his plan to fight the pandemic if elected. Biden has since walked back on the idea from a federal level, citing potential constitutionality issues, and instead said he would encourage governors to do so and lead by example by wearing face coverings publicly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has heavily recommended mask use when in public and around people who don't live in your household to help prevent coronavirus transmission. The nation's top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has also pushed for universal mask-wearing.

Trump's messaging on masks has largely focused on allowing people to choose whether to wear them. During an indoor rally in Nevada on Sunday, his campaign required only attendees standing behind him — in view of TV cameras — to wear face coverings.
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Trump reiterated his standpoint Tuesday evening, arguing that "a lot of people don't want to wear masks."

"Who are those people?" the ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos asked. "I'll tell you who those people are — waiters," Trump responded. "They come over and they serve you and they have a mask. And I saw it the other day where they were serving me, and they're playing with the mask — I'm not blaming them, I'm just saying what happens — they're playing with the mask, so the mask is over, and they're touching it. And then they're touching the plate. That can't be good."Advertisement

A majority of Americans — Democrats and Republicans alike — say they support regular mask-wearing and do so in their daily lives, according to recent public polling.

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