When it comes to supporting a national mask mandate, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is all over the place. This week Biden said the federal government cannot “mandate” that people wear masks. It would likely be unconstitutional. But at the Democratic National Convention, Biden promised the mandate would be part of his national strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“Here’s the deal,” the former vice president said in an interview with an Arizona CBS News affiliate. “The federal government, there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate. I don’t think, constitutionally, they could.”
Biden first floated the idea of instituting “a mask mandate nationwide” in mid-August. Biden very much favored a national mask mandate. He even promoted the idea during his acceptance speech. “If I’m president, on day one, we’ll implement the national strategy I’ve been laying out since March,” said the Democratic nominee. “We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask, not as a burden, but to protect each other. It’s a patriotic duty. In short, I will do what we should have done from the very beginning.” It was not long after his party’s convention that Biden began to amend his position on the matter.
Biden proposed a mandate. Then, he said he is a constitutionalist and that he would only pressure local leaders. Now, Biden says he is pretty sure a national mandate would be unconstitutional and that he hopes the governors will do the right thing. Meanwhile, Harris says no one would suffer for ignoring the mandate. She also says it is more of a standard than an actual mandate.
Nonetheless, as late as Tuesday, the Biden campaign still was running ads on CNN featuring his convention speech line about implementing a national mandate as a “patriotic duty.” His own campaign handlers obviously can’t even keep up with his message.
When Biden says the United States needs competent and coherent leadership amid the pandemic, is this what he had in mind?
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