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Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), one of President Trump's most loyal Senate allies, told "Axios on HBO" it was a sign of "respect" from the president to not push for nationwide face mask adoption.

Why it matters: Face masks are a key part of controlling the spread of coronavirus, and many state and local officials clashed over implementing mask mandates.

  • Back in September, CDC director Robert Redfield said masks may be even more effective than a vaccine in stopping the pandemic.

The bottom line: Cramer defended the president's position as rooted in a preference for freedom.

  • Cramer said that "Trump's default position is generally for individual responsibility and individual outcomes. And so while he's said, 'It's up to you,' that's a respect."
  • "Part of the freedom that he supports so strong are states' rights, federalism. Now you may not like how he talks about it, but he does talk about individual freedoms, and local control of things in a meaningful way that frankly draws a lot of the support."

The big picture: Cramer told Axios CEO Jim VandeHei in the "Axios on HBO" interview that he doubted a mandate would have stuck.

  • "I know there are a lotta people that, if he created a mask mandate, wouldn't have worn a mask."

The bottom line: Many Trump supporters follow the president's cue, and the president could have spent time pushing people to wear masks.

Go deeper

Jan 20, 2021 - Health

Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the White House with Jill Biden in 2016. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Amazon's worldwide consumer CEO Dave Clark has offered to help the Biden administration with its coronavirus vaccination goals by mobilizing efforts to inoculate its employees, according to a letter sent to President Biden on Wednesday.

Why it matters: As demand for the coronavirus vaccine is outstripping supply, Amazon has about 800,000 employees, many of whom are essential workers. The Biden administration wants to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days.

Big Tech lobbies hard against looming antitrust bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook and Google's Sundar Pichai, have been jawboning lawmakers as a Senate committee takes up a key antitrust bill Thursday.

Why it matters: The bill prompting this lobbying frenzy could upend how tech's giants do business, and tech's critics see this as a "now or never" moment for Congress to check the industry's power.

Biden stock market gets Trumped

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

U.S. stocks markets performed worse during the first year of Joe Biden's presidency than during the first year of Donald Trump's presidency.

By the numbers: The S&P 500 rose 19.3% between the market close before Biden's inauguration and yesterday's market close, compared to a 24.1% increase for Trump during the similar period.