Chris Wallace slammed the Trumps for removing their face coverings at the first debate, asking, "Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?"

By Benjamin VanHoose
October 23, 2020 09:51 AM
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The Trump family complied with mask-wearing protocols at Thursday night's debate after taking heat for ditching their face coverings at the last one.

During the final presidential debate ahead of the Nov. 3 election, President Donald Trump's children, Ivanka, 38, Tiffany, 27, and Eric, 36, along with Eric's wife Lara, 38,  and Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, 51, all appeared with face coverings. The socially distanced gathering was held at Belmont University in Nashville.

At the first debate held Sept. 29, the Trumps chose not to wear masks while in the audience, a decision that proved more controversial after several in the president's inner circle contracted COVID-19 in the days after the event.

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, who moderated that first debate, had questioned why the Trump family wore masks upon entering the facility but took them off upon being seated at the event in an interview days later.

"The rules from the Cleveland Clinic could not have been more clear: Everyone — everyone in the audience — was to wear a mask," Wallace, 72, said. "The president, and the former vice president and I were the only ones exempt from that ... after the first family came in, they all took off their masks. So did the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows."

"Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?" he asked while interviewing Lara, who insisted she felt the family was being safe.

Members of the Trump family at Thursday night's presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee.
| Credit: Getty Images

At the close of Thursday's political face-off between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Melania Trump headed onstage while wearing a mask, standing beside her husband. The first lady, 50, canceled a campaign appearance on Tuesday after her rep said she had a "lingering cough" while recovering from her bout with the coronavirus, which also landed the president, 74, in the hospital this month.

Their 14-year-old son, Barron, also recovered from COVID-19.

Melania Trump and President Donald Trump
| Credit: Getty Images

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The (less chaotic) debate held Thursday saw Trump and Biden, 77, paint a drastically different picture of America and disagree throughout, though the two men largely avoided a repeat of their first meeting last month, when Trump repeatedly interrupted and heckled Biden, who responded then by calling him a "clown" and telling him to "shut up."

Thursday's debate moderator, NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker, thanked Trump and Biden for a “robust” discussion afterwards, before reminding Americans to vote.

Pandemic questions made up the first portion of the political event, even though Trump has complained recently that he thinks people are “tired” of hearing about the global public health crisis. “It will go away,” Trump said at the debate. “We’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It will go away.”

Biden then drew a direct line between the death toll and the president’s criticized leadership during the pandemic, bringing up Trump’s previous statements that, "no," he does not take responsibility for the virus. (Trump did say he now does, though he added “it’s not my fault it came here” and repeated his long-running argument that China is to blame.)

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Biden, who has largely pressed a campaign message about how Trump handled the virus, emphasized that Trump “has no plan” and laid out his own approach if elected, warning that the country is headed for a “dark winter” if Trump remains in office.

“This is the same fellow who told you this is going to end by Easter,” Biden said, bringing up Trump’s initial claims in March that the pandemic would be over within weeks. “We’re about to go into a dark winter — a dark winter — and he has no clear plan. And there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”

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