Donald Trump ignored pleas from Michigan‘s governor and attorney general that he wear a mask while touring a Ford Motor Company facility that is producing ventilators to combat coronavirus, saying he did not want to give media members the “pleasure” of seeing him in it as he claimed to have worn on in a “back area” of the factory.
The president’s latest defiant act came after the state’s Democratic attorney general, Dan Nessel, urged the president to wear a protective face covering.
“While my Department will not act to prevent you from touring Ford’s plant, I ask that while you are on tour you respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford – and across this state – by wearing a facial covering. It is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the Governor’s Executive Orders. It is currently the law of this State.”
“We must all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Mr Nessel added. “Anyone who has potentially been recently exposed, including the President of the United States, has not only a legal responsibility, but also a social and moral responsibility, to take reasonable precautions to prevent further spread of the virus.”
That did not cause the president to wear a mask while he was in public view inside the facility.
“I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” he said, briefly holding a shield over his face in a playful manner as the US death toll from Covid-19 neared 94,000.
“They said not necessary,” Mr Trump said of Ford officials. “I think it sets an example both ways,” he added, suggesting he also wanted to send a signal to his political base, which is composed largely of conservatives who say state lockdowns are a violation of their rights.
Bill Ford, chairman of the company’s executive chairman, was asked by a reporter travelling with Mr Trump if he told the president is was okay if he did not wear a mask. “Up to him,” Mr Ford said with his arms held out wide.
Mr Trump did produce a mask. It was dark blue, like most of his suits lately. It had a white presidential seal on one side.