Biden, Seizing on Masks as a Campaign Issue, Calls for a Mandate_Femi Ehiabhi

Joe Biden said wearing a mask was “about your responsibilities as an American” as he and his new running mate, Kamala Harris, drew a contrast with President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

Mr. Biden, addressing reporters after receiving a briefing from public health experts, said every American should wear a mask while outside for at least the next three months and that all governors should mandate mask wearing.

“It’s not about your rights,” Mr. Biden said, standing in front of five American flags at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington. “It’s about your responsibilities as an American.”

Ms. Harris, appearing jointly with Mr. Biden for a second consecutive day, presented his call for mask-wearing as an example of what he would bring to the presidency — providing an early example of how she may try to talk up Mr. Biden to the American people.

“That’s what real leadership looks like,” she said. “We just witnessed real leadership.”

For months, Mr. Biden has assailed Mr. Trump over his handling of the pandemic, and the issue is likely to remain a central argument for Mr. Biden and now Ms. Harris in the final months of the campaign. The mask issue is an area that allows for a clear distinction with how Mr. Trump has approached the virus and how he has used — or not used — the platform that comes with the presidency to set an example for the American people.

Mr. Trump, who has ignored or mischaracterized scientific data throughout the pandemic, opened a White House press briefing on Thursday by calling Mr. Biden’s views “anti-scientific.”

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