President Donald Trump claimed ‘waiters’ do not like wearing masks as he was pressed on his own lack of mask-wearing – and asked to explain what he meant when he said there are people who don’t like covering up.

He offered the claim after a voter asked him why he did not support a nationwide mask mandate and why he is so seldom seen in one.

At an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia with undecided voters, he was asked by Julie Bart, a former Hillary Clinton voter from Gibsonia: ‘Why don’t you support a mandate for national mask wearing? And why don’t you wear a mask more often?’

Trump replied by first claiming that Joe Biden ‘said we’re going to do a national mandate on masks’ and ‘they never did’ although Biden is not president.

Then he said: ‘A lot of people don’t want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good.’

Question: Donald Trump faced former Hillary Clinton voter Julie Bart who asked why he did not wear a mask more often himself and issue a nationwide mask mandate

Pressed by ordinary voter - then by anchor: When Donald Trump told Julie Bart that people did not like wearing masks, George Stephanopoulos interrupted to ask who, prompting Trump to reply: 'Waiters'

Pressed by ordinary voter - then by anchor: When Donald Trump told Julie Bart that people did not like wearing masks, George Stephanopoulos interrupted to ask who, prompting Trump to reply: 'Waiters'

Pressed by ordinary voter – then by anchor: When Donald Trump told Julie Bart that people did not like wearing masks, George Stephanopoulos interrupted to ask who, prompting Trump to reply: ‘Waiters’

He was interrupted by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, who asked: ‘Who are those people?’

Trump replied: ‘I’ll tell you who those people are – waiters. They come over and they serve you, and they have a mask. 

‘And I saw it the other day where they were serving me, and they’re playing with the mask — I’m not blaming them – I’m just saying what happens. They’re playing with the mask, so the mask is over, and they’re touching it, and then they’re touching the plate. That can’t be good.’

It is unclear when Trump met, although he spent the weekend at his Las Vegas hotel. At the White House he is served by the staff of the East Wing and by military aides.

Trump went on to cite Dr. Tony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control’s change in their guidance earlier this year. 

In April public health experts urged mask wearing, having earlier been against, partly because they feared that telling people to cover up would mean hospitals would be unable to provide masks to their own staff. 

Fauci and other experts have since repeatedly urged everyone to wear a mask and said it is critical to beating the virus. They have also attributed falling infection rates to mask wearing.

But Trump said: ‘There are a lot of people, if you look at Dr. Fauci’s original statement, you look at a lot of people, CDC, you look at a lot of people’s original statement, they said very strongly, George, don’t wear masks.

‘Then all of a sudden they went to wear masks. The concept of a mask is good, but it also does, you’re constantly touching it, you’re touching your face, you’re touching plates.’

Questions on masks have grown since Trump resumed holding rallies – including an indoor one this weekend in Henderson, Nevada,  

The masks claims came as he defended his handling of the coronavirus – including from a former supporter who asked him why he threw ‘people like me under the bus.’

‘Yeah, well I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways I up-played it in terms of action,’ Trump said early in the town hall program broadcast on ABC. 

Trump was responding to a direct question from a voter at the event in Philadelphia.  

I hate to say it but I'm what you need,' President Trump told a cheering crowd of a few thousand supporters in Henderson, Nevada, at the weekend, where hardly any were wearing masks

I hate to say it but I'm what you need,' President Trump told a cheering crowd of a few thousand supporters in Henderson, Nevada, at the weekend, where hardly any were wearing masks

I hate to say it but I’m what you need,’ President Trump told a cheering crowd of a few thousand supporters in Henderson, Nevada, at the weekend, where hardly any were wearing masks

‘If you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,’ the voter, a woman from Pittsburgh asked. 

 Trump’s response came days after Bob Woodward’s book ‘Rage’ revealed Trump telling the author in a March 19 that he played down the virus to avoid ‘panic.’

‘I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic,’ the president told Woodward, in an interview captured on tape.  

Trump faced some tough questions from the get-go, including from a man named Paul Tubiana who said he voted for him in 2016. 

Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?' asked Paul Tubiana, who said he voted for Trump in 2016

Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?' asked Paul Tubiana, who said he voted for Trump in 2016

Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?’ asked Paul Tubiana, who said he voted for Trump in 2016

Moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his statements that the coronavirus will 'go away'

Moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his statements that the coronavirus will 'go away'

Moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his statements that the coronavirus will ‘go away’

‘I’m a conservative, pro-life and diabetic. I’ve had to dodge people who don’t care about social distancing and wearing face masks,’ he said – after Trump held rallies with mask-less supporters in the West.

‘I thought you were doing a good job with the pandemic response until about May 1st. Then you took your foot off the gas pedal. Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?’ he asked. 

‘Well, we really didn’t, Paul,’ Trump responded.

‘We’ve worked very hard on the pandemic. We’ve worked very hard. It came off from China. They should have never let it happen,’ he said. 

Interviewer George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on past statements that the virus would ‘go away.’

‘It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it’s going to go away a lot faster with it,’ Trump told him.

‘It would go away without the vaccine?’ Stephanopoulos asked him.

‘Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away,’ Trump responded.

‘And many deaths,’ Stephanopoulos told him, as the nation approached 200,000 of them due to the coronavirus. 

‘And you’ll develop – you’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality,’ Trump said. ‘It’s going to be – it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen,’ he said. 

In other comments, Trump quoted comments from disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci early in the pandemic amid a shortage of protective gear – then noted that ‘some people’ say not to shut down businesses to spread disease transmission.

‘But whether it’s Dr. Fauci or anybody else, a lot of people got it wrong. They talked about don’t wear masks, and now they say wear masks. Although some people say don’t wear masks,’ Trump said.

‘I mean you have a lot of different ideas. Some people say just leave it the way it is and don’t do any shutdowns, and other people say do shutdowns,’ he said. 

Another questioner told him: ‘The wearing of masks has proven to lessen the spread of COVID. Why don’t you support a mandate for national mask wearing?’  

‘And a good question is, you ask why Joe Biden — they said we’re going to do a national mandate on masks,’ Trump said, referencing a comment Biden made weeks ago about what he might do once in office after consulting experts.

‘He’s called on all governors to have them. There’s a state responsibility,’ said Stephanopoulos. 

‘ Well no, but he didn’t do it. I mean, he never did it,’ Trump said.

Trump flew back and forth from Washington for the event and enjoyed a Philly cheese steak on the way home aboard Air Force One. Trump posted an image of the meal, reminiscent of his famous taco bowl image from his 2016 campaign. 

The meal came from Philadelphia shop D’Allesandro’s, a source told DailyMail.com Tuesday. 

‘I don’t want to drive our nation into a panic. I’m a cheerleader for this nation. I’m the one that closed up our country. I closed it up long before any of the experts thought I should — and saved hundreds of thousands of lives,’ Trump claimed. 

Trump also fielded a question from a woman who has sarcoidosis and said each year she pays $7,000 plus copays. 

‘From the day I was born, I was considerable uninsurable. That disease started in my skin, moved to my eyes, into my optic nerves, and when I went to graduate school, into my brain,’ she said.

She told the president: ‘And should preexisting conditions — which ObamaCare brought into — brought to fruition be removed  … within a 36 to 72-hour period, without my medication, I will be dead.’

When Trump tried to interject to say it would not be removed, she told him: ‘Please stop and let me finish my question, sir.’

‘We are not going to hurt anything having to do with preexisting conditions. We’re not going to hurt preexisting conditions. And — in fact, just the opposite,’ Trump said.

‘If you look at what they want to do, where they have socialized medicine, they will get rid of preexisting conditions,’ Trump claimed. He did not note, as the questioner did, that Obamacare established protections for those with preexisting conditions. 

Stephanopoulos jumped in to confront him: ‘Number one, Joe Biden has ran against Medicare for All in the primaries,’ Stephanopoulos said.

‘But much more importantly, Obamacare guaranteed people with preexisting conditions could buy insurance, guaranteed they could buy it at the same price as everyone else, guaranteed a package of essential benefits, guaranteed that insurance companies couldn’t put a lifetime limit on those benefits,’ Stephanopoulos said.

He also noted that the Trump administration was in court seeking  to strike down the Obamacare law, which includes the preexisting conditions protections. 

Trump pushed back claiming that he had a plan, after Stephanopoulos reminded him: ‘I interviewed you in June of last year, you said the healthcare plan would come in two weeks.

‘I have it all ready – I have it all ready,’ Trump said.

‘You’ve been trying to strike down preexisting conditions,’ Stenphanopoulos said.

‘It doesn’t matter, I have it all ready, and it’s a much better plan for you – and it’s a much better plan,’ Trump responded, in reference to the woman. 

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