GRIFFIN, Ga. — Congressman Doug Collins is making some unusual last minute appeals to win supporters in the final 10 days of the US Senate special election campaign.
As he struggles against better-funded opponents, Collins is embracing some folks who’ve had trouble with the law – and trying to tie his main rival to a mass murderer.
As Republican congressman Doug Collins waded into a crowd, largely wearing the MAGA couture of President Trump, his newest TV advertising was about a long-gone world figure.
"Communist China’s Mao Tse-Tung – history’s most brutal mass murderer," intones an announcer over the the Andy Warhol-painted image of Mao Zedong. Collins claims the painting has hung in the Buckhead mansion of his arch rival, Republican US Senator Kelly Loeffler.
Collins, in the ad, says the image is a symbol for Loeffler’s business ties to the Chinese government.
"Let me be very clear. I will not be an apologist or a shill for China," Loeffler said in an Atlanta Press Club debate Monday. Her campaign didn't respond to a question about the Mao portrait Thursday afternoon.
Like Collins, Loeffler has talked tough on China – as the two Republicans compete to show who is the closest supporter of President Trump.
Loeffler has vastly outspent Collins, backed by her personal fortune, to send that message and to keep a thin lead over Collins in an 11Alive poll last week.
"We’ve been under a $35 million siege (of Loeffler's spending) but we have crowds like this show up all over the state of Georgia," Collins told 11Alive, referring to a crowd of more than a hundred people in Spalding County that watched Collins' stump speech Thursday.
Collins has also dropped on Twitter an image of what he calls the Collins Crew. It includes General Michael Flynn and George Papadopolous – former Trump advisers who had entered guilty pleas for lying to investigators during the Russia probe. Flynn later withdrew his; Papadopolous served a few days in prison before the Justice Department dropped the case against him.
Twitter responded with snark. Collins – who fiercely defended the president during his impeachment – said Trump backers will appreciate their support.
"I think President Trump’s backers like those folks," Collins said. "I think they’re patriots. I think they're the ones who actually fought for this country. And what they have had done, I think history is going to shine a very different light on them."