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President Trump on Thursday brought a mask with him to tour of a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., but said he didn’t “want to give the press the pleasure of seeing” him wear it while he was on camera.
“I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” he said. “In the back area I did have a mask on. I had goggles and a mask right back there.”
While speaking without a face covering -- next to others wearing masks -- the president added that masks were not necessary in the front of the plant, where he was standing. “They’re not necessary here. Everybody’s been tested, in fact I was tested this morning so it’s not necessary,” the president said. “I was given a choice and I had one on in an area where they preferred it.”
He continued, “I honestly - I think I look better in the mask, but I am making a speech, so I won’t have it now.”
When asked if it was true that it wasn’t required that the president wear a mask, Ford’s CEO, Jim Hackett, told reporters, “It’s up to him.”
In a statement Thursday afternoon, the Ford Motor Company added: “Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived. He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years. The president later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.” Bill Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, has been the company’s executive chairman.
Earlier this week, the company announced that Trump and anyone who accompanied him on his visit to the plant, which has been manufacturing ventilators, were recommended to wear a mask.
“Our policy is that everyone wears PPE [personal protective equipment] to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the company told Fox News. “We shared all of Ford’s safety protocols, including our manufacturing playbook, employee pamphlet and self-assessment survey with the White House ahead of time and in preparation for this trip.”
“The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination,” the company added.
Earlier Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, urged the president to wear a face mask on his visit.
“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,” Nessel wrote. “It is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the governor’s executive orders. It is currently the law of this state.”
Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence came under fire for not wearing a mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Pence addressed the controversy and told reporters that while he agreed with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] about wearing masks to contain the spread of coronavirus, he and everyone around him was tested for the virus regularly.
“When the CDC issued those guidelines, it was their recognition that people that may have it may prevent transmitting by wearing a mask,” the vice president said. “Since I don’t have it, I thought it would be a good opportunity to be here, speak to these guys and look them in the eye.”
Pence has been seen wearing a mask since then.