‘Blah, blah, blah’ Second Georgia government debate again focuses on 2020 election

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Republican Gov. Brian Kemp attempts to address former Sen. David Perdue during the first debate in the Republican primary for governor on Sunday, April 24, 2022. (Miguel Martinez/Atlanta Journal Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp attempts to address former Sen. David Perdue during the first debate in the Republican primary for governor on Sunday, April 24, 2022. (Miguel Martinez/Atlanta Journal Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Republican Gov. Brian Kemp attempts to address former Sen. David Perdue during the first debate in the Republican primary for governor on Sunday, April 24, 2022. (Miguel Martinez/Atlanta Journal Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Kemp has accused Perdue of failing to live up to his tough rhetoric on voter fraud and has repeatedly tried to draw attention to a legislative agenda that includes new laws that roll back gun restrictions. fire, cut income taxes and revise education policies.

“Lord, have mercy,” the governor sighed during an exchange, “there’s a lot of spaghetti thrown against the wall.”

Perdue looked equally disgusted minutes into the hour-long event.

“Blah, blah, blah — my God,” the former senator said of Kemp’s defense of his actions in 2020. “It’s more or less the same thing.”

Far behind Kemp in recent polls, Perdue has taken on the underdog role, with the needle attacks to go with it, as he jostles for traction ahead of the May 24 primary.

He spent much of both debates trying to shake the incumbent by interrupting him and occasionally discussing his remarks. And while Kemp didn’t seem as flustered as he sometimes did on Sunday, he was clearly frustrated with his former ally.

If the lingering image of the first confrontation was that of two fingers pointing at each other a few feet apart in the Channel 2 Action News studio, the second debate was marked by the exasperated attempts de Kemp to temper Perdue’s broadsides.

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“If you beat Jon Ossoff, why aren’t you a US senator? Kemp told Perdue’s false claim that he didn’t lose to the Democrat in 2021.

“I am not a dictator. I can’t just wave a wand,” Kemp responded to criticism of stalled legislation to create a town of Buckhead.

“When I was frustrated with the election, I did something,” Kemp said, citing new election laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year in response to Trump concerns about fraud. electoral.

Abrams, a favorite Georgia GOP villain, was not far from their minds. The name of the presumptive Democratic nominee has come up more than a dozen times, as each candidate has claimed that only he can stop his second run for governor.

Only Kemp could fairly claim he had done it before, a narrow victory in 2018 that ended in his refusing to concede defeat.

“I have a record to break again,” he said, “and I’m the only person to break it so far.”

Leading by more than 20 points in recent polls, Kemp is racing to snuff out Perdue’s chances with an outright victory in the primary. If he wins a majority of votes, Kemp can avoid a risky runoff in June that could breathe new life into Perdue’s insurgent campaign.

With little to lose, Perdue spent the debate mixing allegations of voter fraud with attacks that portrayed Kemp as a spongy moderate desperate to pander to conservative Trump supporters to keep his job.

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It forced Kemp into a tricky balancing act, aiming to portray himself as a sharp-elbowed fighter to energize his supporters while trying to avoid the kind of damaging gaffe or outburst of anger that could haunt him on the campaign trail. electoral.

“We have to move on, and I’m ready to do that with a record that can beat Stacey Abrams,” Kemp said.

In that debate, he demanded as many rebuttals as Perdue, seeking airtime to deflect attacks. Pressed at one point if he could change any of his actions after the 2020 election, when he refused Trump’s request to illegally void the election, Kemp was candid.

“I certainly have no regrets, ever, that I followed the laws and constitution of this state.”

Perdue, meanwhile, left his former friend with one final insult before the cameras went dark, a throwback to his 2018 work helping Kemp win a brutal runoff against the then-lieutenant. Governor Casey Cagle.

“I’m just telling you, the worst mistake I ever made was getting Donald Trump’s endorsement for this man,” he said. “He would never have been elected without it.”

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