Critics slammed Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Tuesday for standing by mask mandates after apologizing for posing maskless in a photo with children.
“I took a picture and that was a mistake. Protocols matter. Protecting our kids is the most important thing, and anything that can be perceived as undermining that is a mistake, and I apologize,” Abrams told CNN Host Erin Burnett. Burnett followed up, asking if she believed it was time to lift mask mandates in Georgia.
“COVID hygiene is going to be a point of debate for a very long time, and we can only follow the science and follow our circumstances,” Abrams said. “Unfortunately, in Georgia, we’re not at a place where that conversation is ready because we have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.”
Abrams said that if she is elected governor she would follow the protocols and “set the right example.” She said the example right now was to mask up whenever possible, while noting that situations evolve.
Several states, such as New Jersey, California, Oregon and Delaware, have announced that they would be loosening mask mandates in the coming weeks.
Political personalities and journalists called out Abrams for apologizing and then doubling down on her masking position on Twitter.
Fox News contributor Karol Markowicz called the Georgia gubernatorial candidate a “hypocrite” and said “vote accordingly, Georgia.”
CNN, WASHINGTON POST USE REPUBLICAN ‘SEIZE’ NARRATIVE ON STACEY ABRAMS MASKLESS PHOTO
America First Legal founder Stephen Miller said “protecting our kids means ending school mask mandates.”
“Also, does Abrams’ not see the irony of implying she removed her mask to help people understand her?” he wrote in a follow-up tweet.
“I thought her office put out a statement blaming others?,” Washington Post Investigative reporter Josh Dawsey tweeted.
MORE STACEY ABRAMS PHOTOS SURFACE SHOWING HER MASKLESS AROUND MASKED KIDS
Author and National Review editor Rich Lowry said Abrams was “shrewd” to apologize, noting that she likely had no choice. But he said her “position in favor of mask mandates” is “untenable.”
Josh Kraushaar, a political editor at the National Journal, said that Abrams’ apology and decision to double down on mask requirements was “the worst of all political worlds.”
Abrams visited Glenwood Elementary School to read for children. Days later, the principal of the school posted photos from the event on Twitter, which showed Abrams maskless around several masked children. The principal deleted the photos and appeared to deactivate her Twitter account. Abrams also deleted the tweet.
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The gubernatorial candidate’s campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo posted a statement from the Abrams campaign on Sunday that accused critics of using a “Black History Month reading event for children” for a “false political attack.”
The statement called the “attack” on Abrams transparent, pitiful and silly. It also called out her political opponents.
Groh-Wargo said Abrams believes in science and trusts the CDC recommendation. She said Abrams donned a mask at the reading event but took it off at “so she could be heard by students watching remotely and for photos, but only with folks who were masked.”