GOP senator spotted without mask at convention after urging people to wear them


Sen. Thom Tillis was caught on camera during Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has been a vocal proponent of wearing masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which is transmitted through respiratory droplets when people cough, sneeze, or even talk within close proximity to one another.

However, on Thursday night, Tillis was spotted not wearing a mask during Donald Trump's nomination acceptance speech at the White House — an event at which 1,500 people packed close together completely ignored guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Tillis posted a photo of himself wearing a mask just as the event began at 8:41 p.m. EDT.

"I am honored to be in Washington for President @realDonaldTrump's acceptance speech for the @GOP nomination, where he will share with America our continued vision of freedom, prosperity, and opportunity to live the American Dream," Tillis said in the tweet.

However, Tillis can be seen in photos taken during the speech without a mask.

In the screenshot below, Tillis is in the back middle of the image not wearing a mask, 24 minutes and 51 seconds into Trump's speech.

Thom Tillis
Emily Singer screengrab

Tillis can also be seen in the bottom left of this screenshot captured by journalist Joe Bruno from video posted by CNN.

Thom Tillis
Twitter/Joe Bruno

Tillis' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how long or why he wasn't wearing a mask at the event. However, according to reporter Steve Harrison in Charlotte, Tillis released a statement in which he said, "I've stressed the importance of mask wearing throughout this pandemic and have tried to lead by example on this issue, but last night I fell short of my own standard."

But not wearing a mask in the midst of a crowd of people who traveled from across the country to attend the convention violates directives Tillis has given his own constituents.

The day before the acceptance speech, Tillis sent out an email saying that "wearing a facial covering not only helps saves lives, it will also help save jobs," and that wearing a mask is "about looking out for our neighbors in our communities."

In audio of an Aug. 11 tele-town hall obtained by the American Independent Foundation, Tillis criticized those who don't follow coronavirus prevention guidelines.

"And I suspect, with the number of people that have died in this country, 163,000, some of their deaths, we have to claim, we have to own responsibility for — or I should say, when I say we, those who are refusing to follow social distancing," Tillis said. "I mean, I don't mean to offend anybody on this call, but it's just logic says that if you're gonna let this virus do exactly what it wants you to do, go out in public and spread, you're on the COVID team, and we want you on the American team fighting this virus."

In an April interview, Tillis said, "I'm trying to lead by example, do what I'm asking others to do, and I think that that's what every elected official must do. The last thing I want to do is see an elected official who is responsible for imposing a stay-at-home order or a wear-a-facial-mask order out in public and not with a mask on."

Tillis is locked in a competitive reelection race against Democrat Cal Cunningham. Cunningham appears currently to have the lead, with RealClearPolitics' average showing him up 4.8%.

Inside Elections, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race a toss-up.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.