NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One of Tennessee’s U.S. Senate candidates says his Republican opponents should stop having campaign events because of COVID-19.
Memphis doctor George Flinn isn’t out shaking hands with voters during a pandemic and says his opponents shouldn’t either.
“I cannot imagine why my opponents would continue to want to have events without masks,” Flinn told News 2 on Thursday, “and I call them out on it. I say its the wrong thing to do. If you are going to that, you are not a leader.”
Flinn was asked if he was referring to former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty at an early voting event last Friday in Nashville and trauma surgeon Manny Sethi who appeared last Saturday at a Rutherford County political event.
“In this race, I am referencing them,” responded Flinn.
Neither Hagerty nor Sethi and almost all of their supporters at the events wore masks or maintained social distances of at least six feet.
Hagerty did have a mask on briefly as he early voted.
“We have got to be the party of personal responsibility,” maintained Flinn during his interview. “We know that masks work. We know that social distancing works.”
Flinn’s words about fighting COVID-19 come after President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued his own message about rising virus numbers nationwide including Tennessee.
“Have the mask right here and I will use it gladly,” Trump said. “If you can, use the mask. If you’re close and in a group or in an elevator, it’s not their fault. I put on a mask. I have no problem with a mask. If it can potentially help I will wear it.”
The doctor who wants to be Tennessee’s U.S. senator says it’s about saving lives instead of publicly campaigning.
“I think it’s unconscionable that we would advocate having these meetings right now, especially events for campaigns,” concluded Flinn. “That is wrong and I will not be a part of it.”
As for being a perennial candidate, Flinn says he’ll be one until there’s a conservative majority in the country.
The two leading campaigns gave no indication of following Flinn’s message.
Manny Sethi’s campaign manager Chris Devaney said, “Voters deserve to hear directly from their candidates. We take the proper precautions at our events and we encourage people to be safe and smart. At the end of the day, we believe in personal freedom.”
Bill Hagerty’s campaign spokesperson Abbi Sigler responded in a statement focusing on Tennessee voters that read in part: “They’re tired of mandates and being told what to do by the government. Bill trusts the good people of Tennessee to make the right decisions for themselves.”