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Chris Wallace, Trump campaign adviser spar over first family’s refusal to wear masks at debate

Chris Wallace and Steve Cortes, an adviser to President Trump’s reelection campaign, had a heated exchange Sunday about the first family’s refusal to wear masks at last week’s presidential debate, which the Fox News anchor moderated.

Members of the president’s family in the audience at the Cleveland Clinic declined masks when staff offered them, despite rules mandating face coverings.

“Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?” Wallace asked Cortes on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Everybody was tested before that event, as you well know,” Cortes responded.

“It doesn’t matter. Everybody that was in that room was tested, and the Cleveland Clinic’s regulation was it didn’t matter,” Wallace said. “Everybody was told to wear a mask. Why did the first family and the chief of staff feel the rules for everybody didn’t apply to them?”

“We also believe in some element of individual choice. People were distanced, and they had been tested,” Cortes responded.

“They weren’t distanced, and there were rules, and there was no freedom of choice. They broke the rules. Why did they break the rules?” Wallace pressed.

The exchange grew testy as Cortes attacked Wallace’s performance as debate moderator.

“The way you’re starting to harangue me now actually reminds me of what you did to the president. … He had to debate not just Joe Biden but you as well. You were not a neutral moderator then,” Cortes said, referring to the Democratic presidential nominee.

“People can make reasonable decisions for themselves,” he added.

“No, actually, they can’t. They’re the rules, and they’ll be kicked out next time,” Wallace countered. “The president interrupted me and the vice president 145 times, so I object to saying I harangued the president. I know it’s a talking point.”

Trump’s diagnosis with the coronavirus last week has put a spotlight on his lack of precautions against the virus, including his repeated appearances before large crowds and frequent refusals to wear masks.

 

Tags Chris Wallace Donald Trump Joe Biden

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