Joe Biden wants every American to wear a mask — and if he wins the White House, he has vowed to mandate mandatory masks for all.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum — every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing. The estimates by the experts are that it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months. Forty thousand lives, if people act responsibly,” Biden said last month. “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives.”
Then he lectured Americans, saying, “It’s not about your rights. It’s about your responsibilities as an American. Wearing the mask is less about you contracting the virus. It’s about preventing other people from getting sick. […] This is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up, do the right thing.”
Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), endorsed the national mask mandate. “That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said after Biden’s declaration. “We just witnessed real leadership. Which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months, because it will save lives.”
But that was then. Now, Biden’s backtracking. Seems there’s this pesky thing called the Constitution.
“Here’s the deal, the federal government… there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate, I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden on Sunday told Dennis Welch, political editor of the Arizona’s Family publication and host of “Politics Unplugged.”
“But I’d plead with…I carry my mask with me wherever I go,” the former vice president said. “I’d set an example. It’s about making sure the public is safe and secure, and that is a local decision, but there should be national standards laid out as to how it should be gone about. You can’t mandate that. But to set the example on what need to be done.”
It wasn’t the first time Biden walked back his mandate. Last Wednesday, he even denied he ever called for a mandate, declaring he is a “constitutionalist.”
“I’m a constitutionalist,” Biden said. “You can’t do things the Constitution does not allow you the power to do.”
But Biden had repeatedly called for a nationwide mask mandate. In June, he told CBS Pittsburgh affiliate KDKA that he would sign an executive order requiring Americans to wear face coverings.
“The one thing we do know, these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that mask. [For] anyone to reopen, it would have to make sure that they walked into a business that had masks,” he said.
Harris, for her part, has played both sides. She said last month that a nationwide mask requirement would be one of the Biden-Harris administration’s first orders of business if they win the White House, but then immediately said they wouldn’t bother to enforce it.
“It’s a standard. I mean, nobody’s going to be punished,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show. “Nobody likes to wear a mask, this is a universal feeling, right? So, that’s not the point,” she said.
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