Trump campaign defends lack of COVID-19 precautions before president's diagnosis

Two Trump campaign advisers defended the approach to the coronavirus Sunday and once again took an opportunity to mock his Democratic rival's use of a mask even after the president was diagnosed with the virus last week.

Despite the president’s positive test, campaign adviser Jason Miller mocked Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Jayapal says tuition-free community college 'probably won't' be in spending plan Jan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt MORE’s use of masks on the campaign trail, echoing the president himself during the Tuesday presidential debates.

"I think too often he’s used the mask as a prop,” Miller said on ABC's “This Week.” “A mask is very important, but even if he's -- he could be 20, 30 feet away from the nearest person and still have the mask on. That's not going to change anything that's out there.”

Biden has tested negative for the virus in days since he appeared on stage with Trump during a presidential debate on Tuesday.

In an appearance later on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Miller said he had “no concerns at all” about Vice President Pence, who has tested negative, continuing to campaign.

“I have no concerns at all. The vice president takes it very serious, all of these measures,” Miller said. “Anyone around the vice president are tested. People are kept very safe. And again, we can't hide from this virus forever, Chuck, we have to take it head on, and we have to reopen our economy.”

NBC’s Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddArkansas governor backs employer vaccine mandates Paid family leave is 'not a vacation,' Buttigieg says Grisham thinks Trump will run in 2024 and have no 'guardrails' MORE grilled Miller about the president’s failure to self-isolate after aide Hope HicksHope HicksWhite House orders release of Trump records to Jan. 6 committee Grisham calls Kushner 'Rasputin in a slim-fitting suit' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan MORE tested positive for COVID-19 before he did. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines call for anyone knowingly exposed to an infected person to isolate for two weeks.

“That's the CDC guideline, but it sounds like what you're saying is the White House does not abide by CDC guidelines?” Todd said.

“I’ll let the White House operations and White House medical unit speak to the exact particulars, but what I know is that anyone who's around the president is tested, that their temperature is taken, that they keep back at least,” Miller replied. “I mean, I'm never within six feet of the president even when I'm around him.”

Appearing later on ABC, Biden deputy campaign manager blasted Miller’s earlier comments.

“That tells you a lot of what you need to know about how the Trump campaign has treated this from the outset,” she said. “Biden believes that the words of a president matter, that the actions of a president matter. From the outset, he has taken this seriously. He has encouraged Americans to wear masks to protect each other.”

Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes similarly defended the First Family’s failure to wear masks at the first presidential debate despite Cleveland Clinic staff offering them to them.

“Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?” Host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceChris Wallace on Colin Powell: He was 'very protective' of his reputation Liz Cheney is the Margaret Chase Smith of our time Sunday shows - Buttigieg warns supply chain issues could stretch to next year MORE asked Cortes on “Fox News Sunday.”

Cortes countered that everyone attending the Tuesday debate had been tested beforehand.

“It doesn’t matter. Everybody that was in that room was tested, and the Cleveland Clinic’s regulation was it didn’t matter,” Wallace, who moderated the debate, 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?”

As Wallace continued to press Cortes, the adviser assailed him for his moderation of the debate.

“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. He went on to defend people who chose not to wear masks as having the capacity to make “reasonable decisions” for themselves.

“No, actually, they can’t. They’re the rules, and they’ll be kicked out next time,” Wallace said. “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.”