Three of the four candidates for Senate in Georgia participated in two debates Sunday night, about four weeks before they face off in a runoff election that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the upper chamber.
Incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler squared off with Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock and Democrat Jon Ossoff arrived to debate incumbent Sen. David Perdue — but Perdue didn’t show up.
In her debate, Loeffler repeatedly called Warnock a “radical liberal,” while Warnock criticized Loeffler as a wealthy officeholder who’s out of touch with ordinary Georgians.
When asked, Loeffler declined to answer questions about accusations from President Donald Trump about election fraud in the general election. Trump has repeatedly claimed that he won the vote in Georgia, a state President-elect Joe Biden won by a little more than 10,000 votes.
Both Loeffler and Perdue, however, have refused to acknowledge Biden as the president-elect and Trump’s baseless claims of fraud are now concerning Republicans that skeptical GOP voters won’t turn out to vote in the Jan. 5 runoffs. If Warnock and Ossoff win the runoffs, the Democrats will take control of the Senate for the first time since 2015.
“The Democrats want to fundamentally change America,” Loeffler said in her debate. “And the agent of change is my opponent, radical liberal Raphael Warnock.”
“What’s at stake here in this election is the American dream. That’s what’s under attack,” she said later.
Warnock said Loeffler, who was appointed to fill the seat vacated this year by Sen. Johnny Isakson, of using her time in the Senate to make money while Georgians are losing jobs and income because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“She purchased that [Senate] seat,” Warnock said. “It’s done well for her. The only issue is that the people who sold it to her don’t own it.”
In the other debate, Ossoff effectively debated an empty podium where Perdue would have been. Perdue — who has repeatedly complained that he’s even in a runoff, as he failed to win 50% of the general election vote — said last month he wouldn’t debate Ossoff.
“The reason that we are losing thousands of people per day to this virus is because of the arrogance of politicians like David Perdue,” Ossoff said at his debate, often posing questions to Perdue’s empty dais.
“So arrogant that he disregarded public health expertise and so arrogant that he’s not with us here today to answer questions.”
At a previous debate, Ossoff called Perdue “a crook” for dumping and buying millions of dollars in stocks earlier this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The debates were sponsored by the Georgia Public Radio and the Atlanta Press Club.
Both Loeffler and Purdue appeared with Trump in Georgia over the weekend, where the president again decried the election and criticized Republican Georgia officials who have refused to try and overturn the state’s vote for Biden.
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