Trump campaign says he 'led' on masks after he shocks the country with balcony stunt

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Trump has made a mockery of mask-wearing since the beginning of the pandemic.

Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley insisted Tuesday morning that Trump has "led" on the issue of wearing masks and accused the media of failing to accurately depict Trump's position on the subject.

"(Trump) has led on the issue at every single turn and right now is no different," Gidley said. "He pulled out a mask at the debate and said, 'Here, I have mine, I wear mine, we socially distance inside the White House.'"

He claimed that Trump was encouraging others to wear masks as early as March and was instrumental in working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to implement mask guidelines.

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Despite Gidley's assertions, Trump's track record on following mask recommendations — or encouraging others to do so — is not good.

Just this week, Trump, recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and hospitalized on Friday, left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center despite it being unsafe for him to do so, according to multiple experts. Once back at the White House, where a rapidly growing number of staffers and workers have since been diagnosed with COVID-19 as well, he stood on the balcony for several moments to pose for photos, removing his mask and exposing those around him to the virus.

Here are a few other instances belying Gidley's claims and demonstrating Trump has never been a mask proponent.

"I don't wear masks like him."

At last Tuesday's debate, Trump mocked Democratic nominee Joe Biden for his masking habits.

"When needed, I wear masks. I don't wear masks like him," he said, pointing in Biden's direction. "Every time you see him he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I have ever seen."

"I don't think I'm going to be doing it."

"The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it’s voluntary," Trump said at the White House April 3. "You don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time, but this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”

Trump added that he couldn't see himself sitting in the Oval Office wearing a face mask to "greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens."

"I don't know, somehow I don't see it for myself. Maybe I'll change my mind, but this will pass, and hopefully it will pass very quickly," he said.

"I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it."

When Trump visited a Ford factory May 21, he claimed he wore a mask in some parts of the building, but not anywhere with photographers in attendance.

"I wore one," he said. "(But) I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it."

"This might explain why Trump doesn't wear a mask in public."

In late May, Trump retweeted a post by Fox News analyst Brit Hume, appearing to malign Biden for looking undignified in a mask.

"This might explain why Trump doesn't wear a mask in public," the tweet read, accompanied by a photo of Biden in a mask and sunglasses.

"He's a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way," Biden shot back in a CNN interview, criticizing him for "macho stuff" that has led to "stoking deaths," as well as for politicizing virus safety measures.

"I don't agree with" the CDC.

In a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace in July, Trump said he had no interest in implementing a national mask mandate. He vehemently disagreed with the CDC recommendations, claiming that "masks cause problems, too."

"The CDC says if everybody wore a mask for four to six weeks, we could get this under control," Wallace said to Trump. "Do you regret not wearing a mask in public from the start, and would you consider, will you consider a national mandate that people need to wear masks?"

"No, I want people to have a certain freedom," Trump responded. "And I don't believe in that, no. And I don't agree with the statement that if everybody would wear a mask, everything disappears."

"Maybe they're not so good."

In August, Trump again said he would never legally enforce mask-wearing, because "Americans must have their freedoms."

He said his administration has a "different approach" from Biden's.

"We have encouraged Americans to wear masks, and I emphasized this is a patriotic thing to do," he said. "Maybe they're great, and maybe they're just good. Maybe they're not so good."

"I do believe they have a time and a place."

Trump was seen wearing a mask in public for the first time during a July visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, months into the coronavirus pandemic. Just beforehand, he told reporters he'd "probably" wear a mask while at the hospital, where they were required.

"I love masks in the appropriate locations," he said. "I think it's a great thing to wear a mask. I've never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place."

"OK, because you want to be politically correct."

Trump barked at Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason for wearing a mask during a press briefing in late May.

"Can you take it off, because I cannot hear you," Trump said.

Mason said he would speak up.

"OK, because you want to be politically correct," Trump said, aggrieved.

"No, sir, I just want to wear the mask," said Mason.

"If you don't take it off, you're very muffled."

Trump got snippy with the same reporter again for wearing a mask during a separate press briefing in early September.

"You're going to have to take that off, please," Trump, maskless, said. "You can take it off. You're how many feet away?"

Mason politely said he would speak louder. Trump pressed the point.

"Well, if you don't take it off, you're very muffled," he said. "So if you take it off, it'd be a lot easier."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.