Doug Collins backs Trump’s criticism of Georgia governor over reopening

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) on Thursday echoed President Trump’s criticism of his state’s governor, saying the plan to reopen Georgia’s economy starting this week was not communicated well and failed to take into account input from local businesses.

“The president wants the country open. I want the country open. The governor wants the country open. The problem is how do you do it? And I think that’s the problem with leadership,” Collins said on “Fox & Friends.”

“Leadership is about communicating, and when you are not communicating clearly — look, the governor did not take away the stay-at-home order, but yet selectively decided certain businesses are going to open up,” he said.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who like Collins is a Republican, at a press conference this week said his state would begin allowing businesses to open under social distancing guidelines. 

Kemp’s decision drew widespread criticism because Georgia is seeing a relatively large number of daily coronavirus cases, and the businesses that were allowed to reopen included tattoo parlors and massage businesses. 

“I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he’s doing,” Trump said at a White House press briefing Wednesday.

Trump said he had discussed the issue with Kemp. White House health officials also have said they would advise Kemp to reverse course.

Local officials, including Atlanta’s mayor, have also pushed back against Kemp’s plans, which come as some groups around the country have protested social distancing policies that have shuttered much of the economy. 

Several local officials have said Kemp’s move caught them by surprise and that they will encourage their constituents to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Collins, who is running for the Senate in Georgia against Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who Kemp appointed to the seat vacated by retired Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), said he thought Kemp should have taken local input into account.

“I will tell you this: My concern was not having the local input into that,” Collins said Thursday. “But when you’re telling people to still stay at home, but yet we’re going to open certain businesses, that creates a problem in which people are not sure what to do.”

Loeffler has voiced measured support for Kemp this week, telling The Hill it was important to reopen the state’s economy safely.

“Senator Loeffler, like Governor Kemp, is working to make sure we reopen our economy and get back to work in a safe and healthy way,” a Loeffler spokesperson told The Hill this week. 

Tags Donald Trump Doug Collins Georgia Johnny Isakson Kelly Loeffler reopening economy

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