President Trump touted his response to the coronavirus pandemic in his first debate with former Vice President Joe Biden and defended his decision to often appear in public without a facial covering, explaining that he wears a mask “when needed.”
“I think masks are okay,” Mr. Trump said, when asked why moderator Chris Wallace why he typically appears in public without wearing a mask. He pulled out a mask from his suit jacket to show that he carried it with him.
“I put a mask on, you know, when I think I need it. Tonight is an example, everybody has had a test,” Mr. Trump said. “I wear a mask when needed. When needed, I wear masks.”
The president also mocked Biden for wearing a mask every time he appears in public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear masks in public to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
“I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask,” Mr. Trump said, adding that Biden “could be speaking 200 feet away” and then “shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Mr. Trump also defended his decision to hold large campaign rallies where there is limited social distancing and wearing a mask is not enforced. He noted that many of the rallies are held outside, which is considered to be safer than holding indoor events.
“People want to hear what I have to say,” Mr. Trump said, claiming that more people want to see him than Biden.
Biden also criticized Mr. Trump’s general response to the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans.
“The president has no plan. He hasn’t laid out anything. He knew all the way back in February how serious this crisis was,” Biden said, seemingly referring to when Mr. Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in February that the virus was “deadly stuff” while downplaying the risks in public.
Biden said that if he were president, he would ensure that hospitals had the equipment necessary to treat patients and protect health care workers, and that schools were properly funded.
Mr. Trump touted his decision to restrict travel from China at the end of January, claiming that it saved millions of lives.
“It’s China’s fault, it should have never happened,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he had received praise from governors as doing a “phenomenal job.”
“Many of your Democrat governors said President Trump did a phenomenal job,” Mr. Trump claimed. He also claimed that “we’re weeks away from a vaccine,” and said that “far fewer people are dying.”
He praised his administration’s response to the coronavirus, claiming that the press was trying to undermine him.
“It’s just fake news. They give you good press, and give me bad press,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Biden. “I’ll tell you, Joe, you could’ve never done the job that we did.”