Donald Trump is giving cover to former New Jersey governor and political ally Chris Christie for saying he was “wrong” to not wear a mask during a White House event now expected of sending coronavirus straight to the Oval Office.
Mr Christie told the New York Times he erred in not wearing a face covering as he helped the president with debate prep then when he attended events on 5 October in the Rose Garden and inside the West Wing honoring Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
The longtime Trump ally said he considered the White House a “safe zone.” The interview, conducted via written questions and answers, came after he, like Mr Trump, tested positive for the virus. The president ended up in a military hospital for parts of four days; Mr Christie was in a Morristown, New Jersey, hospital’s intensive care unit – he was at a higher risk because of his weight and being an asthmatic.
“I believed when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day,” Mr Christie told the Times. “I was wrong. I was wrong not to wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the president and the rest of the team.”
“I hope that my experience shows my fellow citizens that you should follow CDC guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others,” he added.
Mr Trump, during a town hall in Miami on NBC on Thursday evening, shrugged off his debate practice foe’s remark as just something a politician must say. He did not seem to believe Mr Christie really feels he made a mistake leaving his mouth and nostrils uncovered.
“Well, I mean, he has to say that. I think it’s great, he’s a friend of mine. He’s a good guy,” Mr Trump said.
His answer to Savannah Guthrie’s question, however, quickly became a defense of his own actions before he contracted the coronavirus.
“And wrong or not wrong, you have to understand, as president, I can’t be locked in a room someplace for the next year and just stay and do nothing,” Mr Trump said.
“And every time I go into a crowd, I was with the parents of our fallen heroes. These people are the most incredible people,” he said of another event that week with “Gold Star Families” at the White House. “And they came up to me and they would hug me, and they would touch me, and I’m not to not let them do it, to be honest with you.”
During the town hall, Mr Trump sent mixed signals about his views on mask-wearing.
He said “85 per cent” of those who wear masks get the virus. He also said he has no problem if anyone wants to cover their face.
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