During President Donald Trump’s trip to a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Thursday afternoon, he said that he wore a mask – as is the policy of the plant – but took it off when he was in front of the cameras.
Why? “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump, uh, explained.
Here’s the thing: If Trump had worn a mask – even in front of the media – he would be making a lot of Americans happy.
Two-thirds (67%) said Trump should be wearing a mask when he is in public, while less than 3 in 10 (27%) said he should not, according to a new Quinnipiac University national poll. Democrats were most in favor of Trump being masked (90%) while 66% of independents said the same. A minority of Republicans (38%) believe Trump should wear a mask in public.
Those numbers closely parallel the public’s views on mask-wearing more generally in the poll. Fully 64% say that everyone should be wearing a mask in public and, again, Democrats (87%) are most supportive of the idea followed by independents (50%) and then Republicans (40%).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is clear when it comes to masks and their ability to slow the spread of the coronavirus: You should wear them. Here’s its guidance from earlier this month:
“CDC also recommends that everyone wear cloth face coverings when leaving their homes, regardless of whether they have fever or symptoms of COVID-19. This is because of evidence that people with COVID-19 can spread the disease, even when they don’t have any symptoms.”
Despite those guidelines, Trump had still not been photographed in public wearing a mask during the pandemic.
The Ford Motor Co. released this statement following Trump’s visit: “Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived. He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years. The President later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.”
Remember what Trump said about whether he would wear a mask when announcing the new CDC guidelines on mask-wearing in mid-April: “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it. … Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens – I just don’t see it.”
Then, earlier this month, in a trip to a Honeywell mask-making plant in Arizona, Trump claimed that he had, in fact, work a mask – but just not when any reporters or cameras were around. “I had a mask on for a period of time,” Trump said. “I had it on back – backstage. But they said you didn’t need it, so, I didn’t need it. And by the way, if you noticed, nobody else had it on that was in the group.”
Vice President Mike Pence sparked controversy last month when he was photographed at the Mayo Clinic without a mask, the only person in the picture to not have a face covering on. Pence and his wife, second lady Karen Pence, offered up a number of excuses and explanations for why he hadn’t worn a mask before Pence ultimately acknowledged that he should have done so.
Following the news that Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, had come down with the coronavirus, the vice president was occasionally spotted wearing a mask. But during a trip to Florida on Wednesday, Pence went to a crowded burger joint with Gov. Ron DeSantis and neither man wore a mask, according to the pool report.
Politicians tend to do everything they can to make sure they act in ways the public wants them to. Especially when two-thirds of the public feels a certain way. Mask-wearing appears to be an exception to that political rule.
CNN’s Omar Jimenez contributed to this story.