Republican senator argues voters should still support party because life was good before coronavirus

‘People remember how good their lives were back in February,’ Senator Thom Tillis says

Danielle Zoellner
Tuesday 14 July 2020 19:18
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A Republican senator has made the argument as to why voters should continue to back the GOP, including Donald Trump, and it has to do with the state of the economy pre-coronavirus pandemic.

Thom Tillis of North Carolina is seeking re-election in November, but he could face a tough challenge from Democrat Cal Cunningham – who is currently leading in the polls.

To argue for himself and his party, Mr Tillis has said voters should think about how strong the economy was under Republican leadership prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The stakes are very high this election, but you know why I know we’re going to win?” Mr Tillis asked during the North Carolina Republican convention, held virtually on Friday evening. “Because people remember how good their lives were back in February.”

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the stock market was soaring and unemployment rates were at record lows.

But more than 130,000 people have since died from the novel virus and 30 million were left unemployed, with businesses forced to shut down to curb the spread.

In addition to an increase in unemployment, an estimated 5.4 million people have lost health insurance, according to a new study.

The Trump administration has faced backlash for its slow response to the novel virus, and now Donald Trump was pushing for states to continue reopening plans despite a new surge in cases.

But Mr Tillis wanted voters to focus on life pre-Covid.

“Can you imagine if we had had a Democrat president and a Democrat majority in the Senate and the House, what our economy would’ve looked like at the worst possible time? At least we had that economy to buttress us while we fight and ultimately win the COVID war.”

Challenger Mr Cunningham responded to the incumbent’s claims following the Republican convention, calling Mr Tillis a “weak Senator”.

“Thom Tillis was a weak Senator long before this pandemic. For the past six years, he’s caved to corporate special interests instead of standing up for North Carolinians. The stakes are high because our state can’t afford another six years of broken promises and lousy leadership,” Mr Cunningham wrote on Twitter.

Other North Carolina democrats have accused Mr Tillis of attempting to “wish away” the virus instead of being proactive with pandemic response in the state.

North Carolina is not seeing a similar surge in coronavirus cases like Florida and Texas, but it has reported record single-day new cases and hospitalisations. At least 87,528 people in the state have tested positive for the coronavirus and 1,510 have died.

Health experts in the state warned about an increase of the virus with 10 per cent or resident testing positive. The number should be closer to 5 per cent, health officials said.

Mr Tillis first won election in 2014 under Barack Obama’s presidency. At the time, he slammed the administration for its response to the Ebola crisis.

He now will be seeking re-election during another public health crisis.

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