The ill feelings between Chris Wallace and the Trump campaign continued to simmer on Sunday, even though the presidential debate happened nearly a week ago. Wallace butted heads with Steve Cortes, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Wallace pressed Cortes on why the first family were not wearing face masks at the first presidential debate, which Wallace moderated. Wallace asked Cortes, “Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?”
Cortes responded, “Everybody was tested before that event, as you well know.” He continued, “Those of us who went first were tested by Cleveland Clinic directly. Everybody who gets on Air Force One for any trip on Air Force One is tested before they get on.”
A feisty Wallace retorted, “It doesn’t matter. Everybody that was in that room was tested – Steve, everybody that was in that room was tested and the Cleveland Clinic’s regulation was it didn’t matter, everybody except for the three of us on the stage was to wear a mask and people from the Cleveland Clinic came over and offered the first family masks thinking maybe they didn’t have them, they were waved away and the commission on presidential debates has issued a statement saying from now on if you don’t wear a mask, you’re going to be escorted from the hall.”
“Everybody was tested beforehand – no, I’m going to finish my question,” Wallace continued. “Everybody was told to wear a mask. Why did the first family and the chief of staff feel that the rules for everybody else didn’t apply to them?”
Cortes said, “We believe in masks that masks are very useful, the president has worn them on many occasions, including visiting the hospital where he is now a patient, when he was visiting as commander in chief as a guest to visit soldiers there he wore a masks.”
During the testy exchange, the Trump campaign advisor noted, “We also believe in some element of individual choice, people were distanced and they had been tested.”
Wallace argued that the president’s family didn’t practice social distancing, claiming that “they broke the rules” set by the Cleveland Clinic.
Cortes then referenced the presidential debate, by saying, “Chris, the way you’re starting to harangue me now actually reminds me of what you did to the president during the debate on Tuesday night.”
He said that Trump “had to debate not just Joe Biden, but you as well,” adding, “You were not a neutral moderator then.” Cortes continued, “People can make reasonable decisions for themselves.”
A vexed Wallace replied, “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.”
Last week, Wallace responded to criticism about the way he handled the presidential debate by saying that Trump destroyed his plans for a “substantive” conversation.
“Literally, hundreds of man hours and woman hours between me and my researcher went in to try to prepare a substantive debate and on so many issues — Biden’s tax and spending plans, Trump’s climate and environmental policies,” Wallace said. “You know, I was really hoping for the debate that I think America wanted to see,” he continued, “which was a serious exchange of views.”