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Trump,Biden Trade Barbs on Virus,Masks 08/14 06:17

   President Donald Trump is attacking Joe Biden for calling on governors to 
mandate that all Americans wear masks for the next three months, accusing the 
Democratic presidential candidate of politicizing an issue Trump himself has 
used for political gain in recent months.

   WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- President Donald Trump is attacking Joe Biden for 
calling on governors to mandate that all Americans wear masks for the next 
three months, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of politicizing an 
issue Trump himself has used for political gain in recent months.

   Trump claimed Biden has been wrong about the coronavirus pandemic at every 
turn, "ignoring the scientific evidence and putting left-wing politics before 
facts and evidence." Trump went on to falsely say that Biden was advocating for 
the president to use executive power to institute a nationwide mask mandate and 
that Biden was in favor of "locking all Americans in their basements for months 
on end."

   "To Joe, I would say stop playing politics with the virus," the Republican 
president said at a White House press briefing.

   Biden did not call for an executive order, but he did at an earlier campaign 
event call for the institution of "a mask mandate nationwide, starting 
immediately." Biden clarified, however, that it should be left up to the 
governors to make mask-wearing mandatory. He said nothing about keeping 
Americans indoors, but he has argued that economic reopenings in states have 
been rushed and without proper guidance from the federal government to keep 
Americans safe.

   Trump spent the early months of the pandemic refusing to wear a mask during 
public appearances, ridiculing reporters who wore them and retweeting messages 
making fun of Biden for wearing a mask and implying that he looked weak. Trump 
first wore a mask in public about a month ago, during a visit to a military 
hospital, and he has since expressed support for them at times.

   On Thursday, he said it's patriotic for Americans to wear masks, but he 
added, "maybe they're great, and maybe they're just good. Maybe they're not so 
good."

   Biden, at his earlier event, said all Americans should wear masks, citing 
health experts' predictions that it could save 40,000 lives from the 
coronavirus over the next three months. The Democratic presidential candidate 
also responded to those who push back against such mandates.

   "This is America. Be a patriot," he said. "Protect your fellow citizens. 
Step up. Do the right thing."

   The back-and-forth marked a new line of attack from Trump, who is trailing 
Biden significantly in most nationwide and swing state surveys. Biden has made 
what he says is Trump's mishandling of the pandemic --- which has now caused 
the deaths of at least 167,000 people in the United States --- a centerpiece of 
his attacks on the president.

   While Trump has charged that if Biden were elected he would cause everything 
from a stock market crash to a surge of crime in the suburbs, he has largely 
avoided taking Biden on when it comes to the pandemic, choosing instead to 
deflect blame for the deaths and economic damage.

   On Wednesday, when the U.S. reported 1,499 new coronavirus deaths, the 
highest number in a day since May, Trump pushed for schools and businesses to 
continue opening and called for college football to go on despite several 
leading leagues deciding to cancel this year's season.

   On Thursday, he again dismissed critics who say he was too slow to react to 
the pandemic in the U.S., claiming on Fox Business Network that "nobody blames 
me."

   "Look, we got hit by the China plague, and we're not going to forget it," he 
said, "We got hit by the China plague."

 
 
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