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New Ad: Dems Rip Republican Senator for Once Saying Restaurants Shouldn’t Be Forced to Make Employees Wash Hands

North Carolina Democrats have dug up some timely oppo on GOP Senator Thom Tillis, and are running a coronavirus-themed ad ripping him for once having said that restaurant employees should not be forced to wash their hands.

The North Carolina Democratic Party released an ad Tuesday taking Tillis to task for comments he made in 2015 — in which he opposed mandatory hand-washing by restaurant employees — and tweeted “Public health laws keep us safe. We need our leaders in Washington to do the same.”

The ad features aghast news coverage of the remarks, as well as the comments themselves. Those were from a Feb. 2, 2015 policy discussion in which Tillis pitched an unidentified friend on allowing companies to “opt out” of certain regulations, and letting the free market handle the fallout.

“There’s this level of regulations that maybe they’re on the books, but maybe you can make the market-based decision on whether they should apply to you,” Tillis said he told a companion as they ate in a Starbucks.

They were sitting near the restrooms, and Tillis’ companion indicated an employee leaving the bathroom and said “For example, don’t you believe that this regulation that requires this gentleman to wash his hands before he serves your food is important? Should be on the books?”

Tillis said he could use that regulation to illustrate his point, and said “I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says we don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom. The market will take care of that.”

To laughter from the audience, Tillis added “And so it’s one example, but then let them decide. And that’s probably one where every business that did that would go out of business, but I think it’s good to illustrate the point. that that’s the sort of a mentality that we need to have to reduce the regulatory burden on this country. We’re one of the most regulated nations in the history of the planet. And I think if we go about it in a common sense way that that solves a lot of problems that make these other big problems that we’re talking about imminently more easy to solve.”

“Well I’m not sure I’m going to shake your hand,” the moderator joked as he thanked Tillis for appearing.

At the time, the clip caught the attention of then-Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who roasted Tillis for the comments, and cannily pointed out that what Tillis had advocated was not eliminating regulation, but actually creating a new one to modify the existing one.

“That’s not getting rid of regulation, that just makes you an inconsistent ideologue with a light fecal dusting in your latte,” Stewart remarked.

Tillis later tried to dismiss the remarks as a joke, falsely claiming he had given multiple examples, and yet standing by the point he was trying to make.

North Carolina Democrats are hoping that “funny” example goes over even more poorly in coronavirus pandemic times, as former state legislator and Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham tries to make Tillis’ first term his last. What little polling there is on the race isn’t great news for Tillis, as he leads Cunningham by two in one poll, and trails by five in another.

Watch the ad above via NC Dems.

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