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Sunday, October 4, 2020

Trump campaign adviser spars with Chris Wallace over debate


A senior campaign adviser to President Donald Trump accused "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace of not being a neutral moderator during last week's presidential debate.

"He had to debate not just Joe Biden, but you as well. You were not a neutral moderator then," said Steve Cortes, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, on Sunday.

In a back-and-forth on "Fox News Sunday" over the first family and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows‘ decision to not wear masks during the debate, Wallace said the rules from the Cleveland Clinic "could not have been more clear" that everyone in the audience had to wear a mask.

Cortes responded that everyone was tested for Covid-19 prior to the event — to which Wallace reiterated that the Cleveland Clinic's rule was that everyone had to wear a mask, as well as being tested.

"Chris, we believe that masks are very useful, the president has worn them on many occasions, including visiting the hospital where he is now a patient, [and] when he was visiting as commander-in-chief as a guest to visit soldiers there, he wore a mask. So we believe in masks," Cortes said. "We also believe in some element of individual choice."

"They weren't distanced and there were rules, and there was no freedom of choice. They broke the rules," Wallace responded.


"The way you're starting to harangue me now actually reminds me of what you did to the president during that debate on Tuesday night," Cortes shot back.

"I don't mind tough questions, I welcome reasonably tough questions. But what I don't think is OK is for you to become the effective opposition to the president. OK?" Cortes added.

"Steve, let me simply say the president interrupted me and the vice president 145 times, so I object to saying I harangued the president. I know it's the talking point," Wallace said in response.

Cortes also said Sunday that the Trump campaign will continue while the president is recovering from the coronavirus. Vice President Mike Pence will proceed with his schedule, including a vice presidential debate this week, he added.

"We think it's important our campaign vigorously proceed," Cortes said. "Look, the MAGA movement is bigger than just President Trump, he's instrumental of course, but is not the only key element of the MAGA movement."

He added that the vice president, campaign staff and millions of Americans "need to step up and to some degree fill the void that is left because our champion, our main instrument, is not able at this moment to vigorously campaign and certainly not campaign physically right now at all."

"The United States thankfully has vigorous structures for chain of command and there will be no disruption there," Cortes added.

Later on "Fox News Sunday," Tom Inglesby, the director of Johns Hopkins University's Center for Health Security, said there was a "clear danger" in holding events with many people in close proximity, without wearing masks for a long period of time, "especially where loud voices are used."

"I really think large gatherings like rallies shouldn't be happening at this point for any purpose during a pandemic, which is, in the last few weeks, actually been getting worse," Inglesby said.



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