Trump Cites ‘Waiters’ When Pressed About Those Who Doubt Efficacy of Masks, Says Virus Will Disappear When Country Reaches ‘Herd Mentality’
Pressed on his lack of mask wearing by an ABC News town hall questioner, President Donald Trump said he does wear one occasionally but then noted that others have doubted the efficacy of masks. In a follow-up, moderator George Stephanopoulos pushed Trump to name some of these people who felt were worth citing for their distrust in masks, to which the president said: “waiters.”
Julie Bart, a retired chemical engineer from Pennsylvania, who identified herself as a Clinton voter, noted that masks have been proven to help stop the transmission of Covid. So, she then asked why Trump has resisted a national mask mandate and why he personally is rarely seen wearing a mask.
“Well I do wear them when I have to and when I’m in hospitals and other locations,” Trump said, before calling out Biden for proposing a national mask mandate. But Biden predicated his proposal on scientists recommending it and has acknowledged that the power to put such a rule in place would require all 50 state governors to agree.
“He didn’t do it, he never did it,” Trump said, when Stephanopoulos pointed out the context on Biden, seemingly knocking the former vice president for failing to implement a policy before he’s actually president.
“By the way, a lot of people don’t want to wear masks, a lot of people think that masks are not good,” Trump then said.
“Who are those people,” Stephanopoulos said, breaking in to get the president to actually follow up with details on his claim.
Without missing a beat, Trump responded, but he notably did not cite epidemiologists or academics: “Well, I’ll tell you who those people are: waiters.”
“They come over and they serve you and they have a mask, I saw it the other day when they were serving me,” Trump said, laughing into a personal anecdote about a recent dinner he had amidst a discussion about a grave public health debate. “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.”
“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.”
Minutes later, Trump defended his comments to Bob Woodward, where he admitted to playing the down the virus to the public while his advisors where warning of the coronavirus’ deadly nature and ease of transmissibility.
Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on why he wasn’t candid with the the American people.
“I understand that you don’t want to panic people,” the ABC News host said. “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.”
Trump disagreed. “[Churchill] said, ‘You’re going to be safe, be calm, don’t panic.’ And you had bombers dropping bombs all over London,” he said. “So, I guess you could say that’s not so honest. but it’s still great leadership.”
“So you think it’s okay to be dishonest?” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“I’m not looking to be dishonest,” Trump replied. “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?”
“Sure, with time,” Trump said, offering a disclaimer.
“And many deaths,” Stephanopoulos pointed out, about a pandemic that will soon claim 200,000 American lives.
“And you’ll develop a herd mentality,” Trump then said, clearly mistaking that term for ‘herd immunity.’
“It’s going to be herd development and that’s going to happen, that will all happen,” Trump instead. “But with a vaccine, I think it will go away very quickly.”
Watch the video above, via ABC News.
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