Democrat nominee Joe Biden announced last week that one of his highest priorities as president would be to issue a nationwide mask mandate, something President Trump has refused to do.
However, Biden abruptly quit claiming that he would enact the controversial mandate after experiencing political backlash from the declaration, saying instead that he has decided he will “pressure” leaders to do it locally.
After a reporter asked Biden on Wednesday whether he supports a federal mask-wearing mandate, Biden responded “no, what I suggested was, I would ask every person in authority” to issue a mandate, pointing to concerns that there is no constitutional authority for a federal mandate.
“I’m a constitutionalist, you know, you can’t do things the constitution doesn’t allow you the power to do,” continuing to explain that he would “put as much pressure as I could on every governor, every senator, every mayor, every county executive, every local official … to make sure you wear a mask and maintain social distancing.”
This reversal is a far cry from both Biden and running mate Kamala Harris’s statements in recent weeks indicating that a federal mask mandate was a non-negotiable platform issue for them.
In fact, Biden promised in his Democratic National Convention acceptance speech just two weeks ago that “we’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask” if he’s elected president.
Kamala Harris also affirmed just last week that a federally-issued mask mandate was one of the first priorities of the potential Biden administration. Asked by a reporter on Friday if a mask mandate was one of the first orders of business for Biden, Harris replied, “yes, it’s a standard.”
Concerns about the ability of the federal government to enforce such a mandate, however, have clearly made the Biden/Harris campaign skittish about committing to the mandate, as Harris added that “nobody’s going to be punished,” but that “The the point is this is what we as responsible people who love our neighbor, we have to just do that right now.”