Kamala Harris Shies Away From Nationwide Mask Mandate As Biden Keeps Calling For One

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris appeared to step back from calls for a nationwide mask mandate — one her running mate still supports.

Harris, whose CNN interview with Dana Bash aired Sunday morning on “State of the Union,” said that a call for face masks nationwide would be a “standard” rather than a “mandate,” despite the fact that presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden has called for a nationwide mandate on several occasions. (RELATED: ‘I Would Not Trust Donald Trump’: Kamala Harris Says She’d Be Wary Of An Early Coronavirus Vaccine)


Bash began by pointing out Biden’s support for a mask mandate, saying that he appeared to have shifted to support individual mandates from governors and mayors rather than at the federal level.

“What exactly is the Biden-Harris stance on this? ” Bash asked.

“Leaders lead and they set standards. What Joe has been very clear about in his personal behavior, much less in what he is admonishing and requesting of the American people is that we all make the sacrifice to wear a mask in the interest of love of our neighbor, in the interest of defeating or at least reducing the health risks and the number of deaths in America,” Harris said. “It’s about a national standard. Everyone should wear a mask. And here’s the thing about this. None of us likes wearing a mask. Nobody likes to wear a mask.”

“Right. There’s a difference between a standard and a mandate,” Bash agreed. “Would it be a federal mandate under the Biden-Harris administration?”

“It would be a standard,” Harris replied. “Listen, this is not about, in terms of the priorities of Joe Biden and myself, this is not about punishment. It’s not about Big Brother. It is simply about saying what a leader says in times of crisis. You look at World War II. You look at the Great Depression where leaders said we each have to sacrifice for the sake of the nation and the collective. And that’s what this is about.”

Bash went on to ask how exactly Harris thought they would enforce such a standard, especially because there were certainly governors and mayors who would not mandate masks.

Harris’ response to that was to blame President Donald Trump, suggesting that he was the reason wearing a mask had become a political issue.

“And you don’t think it’ll still be a partisan issue?” Bash pressed.

“I pray not,” Harris said, adding, “The virus could care less who we voted for in the last election or who you plan to vote for in the next election. And we need leadership that appreciates that on certain issues they should not be partisan. And wearing a mask certainly shouldn’t be one of them.”

Biden, for his part, tweeted just hours before the interview aired that nationwide mask mandates were among his top priorities.