Rep. Debbie Dingell Would Put Differences Aside and Pose With Trump to Raise Awareness About Coronavirus

Michigan Representative Debbie Dingell said she'd like to bump elbows with President Donald Trump and share the photo on social media to promote alternate greetings in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus--despite bumping heads with the president in the past.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, the Democratic congresswoman explained that despite her spats with Trump, raising awareness was more important than their disagreements. "You have to lead by leading," she told the Detroit Free Press. "The greater cause is what matters."

The two politicians have previously clashed. At a Michigan rally last December, following his impeachment by the House of Representatives, Trump suggested that her late husband, veteran and congressman John Dingell, may be in hell.

"[Debbie Dingell] called me up and said, 'It's the nicest thing that's ever happened, thank you so much, sir,'" Trump said then. "'John would be so thrilled. He's looking down, he'd be so thrilled.' I said, 'That's okay. Don't worry about it.'

"Maybe he's looking up. I don't know. Maybe. But let's assume he's looking down," he also said.

In response to Trump's remark, Debbie Dingell tweeted: "Mr. President, let's set politics aside. My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I'm preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder."

"It just sort of kicked me in the stomach it was a politicization of something that did not need to be so," Dingell also told Fox News in December. "[The funeral honor] wasn't the president's to give. He called me to tell me he was lowering the flags, and to this day and this minute, I was grateful that he did it. I was grateful for the call, he was kind and empathetic and it meant a lot to someone who was hurting and loved her husband."

Dingell revealed other politicians and celebrities she'd like to elbow bump to help spread the message. Besides Trump, she included the two Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. She also listed University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh and Detroit Lions icon Barry Sanders. Dingell has posted encounters with country stars Garth Brooks and Keith Urban and Republican Representative Paul Mitchell.

Dingell added that if she can bump more celebrities, it will help convey the message on practices people can use to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. "Sports stars and entertainers resonate with people," she explained. "We need to raise this issue for people so they know how to stay healthy and safe."

The congresswoman's communications director did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

In a video shared on her Twitter account, Dingell explained a few common sense practices that can be used to prevent cold, flu and coronavirus. Their tips included not shaking hands; washing hands with soap and hot water; staying home from work if you're sick; keeping sick children home from school; coughing or sneezing into your elbow; and don't wear a face mask if you're not sick.

debbie dingell
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) speaks with MSNBC to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump's comments about her late husband, former Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), at the U.S. Capitol on December 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. Dingell has used her platform to inform people ways to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Sarah Silbiger/Getty