Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) earned fierce rebukes on Monday for tweeting a bizarre and insensitive wrestling video edited to look as though President Donald Trump was winning a brawl with the coronavirus.
“COVID stood NO chance against @realDonaldTrump!” the senator tweeted alongside a manipulated World Wrestling Entertainment clip of Trump tackling WWE chairman Vince McMahon in a 2007 publicity stunt. McMahon’s face was replaced with an image of the virus.
More than 210,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19. Over 7,000 of those deaths were in Loeffler’s state. Trump, who has world-class medical treatment and around-the-clock care, was hospitalized for several days after he tested positive for the virus that he spent months downplaying.
Though his condition is not clear, the president returned to the White House Monday evening and paraded around without a mask despite almost certainly still being infectious.
Nevertheless, Loeffler cast Trump as a hero who has defeated the virus. Since Trump’s positive test was announced early Friday morning, she’s repeatedly posted well wishes and even accused China of infecting him and first lady Melania Trump ― both of whom were routinely seen flouting mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines at events.
Loeffler, one of the wealthiest people in Congress, is in a special election bid to win the Senate seat she was appointed to in December 2019. Her opponents in the crowded race include Republican Rep. Doug Collins and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic pastor of the Atlanta church once led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The businesswoman has been at the center of repeated controversies during her first year in office. She has claimed she is “more conservative than Attila the Hun” ― a brutal 5th-century warlord ― and has condemned Black Lives Matter. Players in the WNBA team she co-owns, the Atlanta Dream, are openly supporting Warnock after pressuring Loeffler to sell her stake in their team.
Critics of Loeffler’s Monday tweet noted that dying from COVID-19 does not make you “weak” or a “loser” and that overcoming the virus does not signify being “tough.” Her Democratic opponent, Warnock, also joined the fray.