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.
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) October 5, 2020
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.
7,192 Georgians have died from COVID-19. https://t.co/iAb3AthxcQ
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) October 5, 2020
This is obviously an incredibly bizarre thing for a sitting US senator to tweet for a lot of reasons. But do they think that people who died from Covid... just weren't tough enough? Does Loeffler think that the 7,000 Georgians who have died from it were weak and gave up? https://t.co/MIOlicqd37
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) October 5, 2020
As someone who lost a family member to COVID, please, go fuck yourself, @KLoeffler. What a disgusting human being you are.
— Kurt "Mask Up, Vote Early" Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) October 5, 2020
This meme, except Trump is Loeffler dumping stocks after receiving a special coronavirus briefing, and the other guy is her constituents getting hammered in the markets and getting laid off by the terrible economy. https://t.co/tjWFiTWJIv
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) October 5, 2020
It really is amazing to see sitting senators act like pre-2016 Redditors, making memes and shitposting for clout. Really illuminates the extent to which we are all just Posters now. https://t.co/RZrPgFYswR
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) October 5, 2020
It's not just Trump. This election has to be an historic rebuke of the Republican Party. Anything less condemns our country to more cycles of mindless insanity. https://t.co/liCRxCx4wc
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 5, 2020
"The party will go back to normal after Trump," they tell me. https://t.co/erhK9q3e0r
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) October 5, 2020
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.