May 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mike Pence and the mask resistance

Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview last week with "Axios on HBO," didn't embrace the routine wearing of face masks in the White House — even after two West Wing regulars tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: President Trump makes a point of not wearing a mask, and Pence, with the exception of an Indiana trip, has mostly followed suit — even as the White House recommends them for other Americans.

  • In the West Wing on Thursday, and aboard Air Force Two and at two Pence events in Iowa on Friday, few aides were wearing masks, at a time when they’ve become common in America.

What he's saying: During an interview Friday in West Des Moines, the vice president replied when asked about mask use in the White House: "Well, some people do wear masks."

  • "There's a number of people in the White House that have worn masks for some times," he said. "And, you know, many Secret Service personnel will wear masks on campus."
  • "I think we'll listen very carefully to the White House physician's office," Pence added.
  • Asked if he wasn't committing to more masks, the vice president replied, "I'm committing to listen to whatever the White House physician tells us to do."

The state of play: White House policy on masks changed Monday, after last week's revelation that a valet to Trump, as well as Pence press secretary Katie Miller, had tested positive.

  • A White House memo to staff Monday directed "everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask or facial covering."
  • Trump later appeared mask-less in the Rose Garden.
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