Struggling poll numbers spurred President Trump to pivot away from his previous reluctance to wearing a mask in public, according to a CNN report on Monday.
On Monday afternoon, the President tweeted a picture of himself during his visit to Walter Reed Medical Center earlier this month, which marked his first and only time thus far when he’s worn a mask in public. Trump’s tweet included an indirect suggestion that mask-wearing is “patriotic.”
We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President! pic.twitter.com/iQOd1whktN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2020
According to CNN, a source familiar with the President’s thinking said that his shift to encouraging mask-wearing came after a meeting with campaign aides at the White House last week. Campaign aides warned Trump that even internal poll numbers showed that Americans didn’t approve of his reluctance to wearing masks amid surging cases of the coronavirus throughout the country.
An official who attended the meeting told CNN that Trump relented after the meeting, which followed months of aides trying to convince him to comply with mask-wearing requirements. Aides reportedly suggested to the President previously that his mask could have “MAGA”, “Trump-Pence 2020” or an American flag printed on them, but that the suggestions weren’t enough to stop his vehement opposition to wearing one in public.
A presidential adviser told CNN that Trump’s move to wear a mask publicly for the first time during his visit to Walter Reed followed heavy “pleading” by aides. According to CNN, the presidential adviser urged Trump to encourage his supporters to comply with mask-wearing requirements during his visit, but that he was reluctant partly due to not wanting to give in to pressure from the media.
CNN reported that Trump’s advisers view the President wearing a mask in public as key to his political success in light of his low poll numbers and the coronavirus continuing to be a primary concern amongst voters.
Prior to Trump’s visit to Walter Reed earlier this month, Trump claimed that he wore a mask during parts of a tour at a Ford plant in Michigan in May. The President said that he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
Trump’s shift to encouraging mask-wearing came after Republican lawmakers ramped up calls for the public to adopt the practice. However, both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence continue to push back on the notion of issuing a nationwide mask mandate even as the list of statewide mask mandates continues to grow.