Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) on Sunday said he would not debate his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, ahead of closely-watched twin U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia.
“The runoff in Georgia is an extension of the Nov. 3 general election, where 52 percent of Georgians voted against Jon Ossoff and his radical agenda. Perdue had a commanding first place win, outpacing Ossoff by over 85,000 votes—in nearly every other state, Perdue would have been reelected already,” Perdue’s campaign said in a statement.
“We’ve already had two debates in this election. In each, Ossoff lied repeatedly, and of course the media failed to hold him accountable. He refused to talk about the issues and could not defend his radical socialist agenda. If Ossoff wants to keep lying to Georgians on TV, he will have to use his out-of-state money to pay for it,” the campaign added.
Ossoff took to Twitter to respond.
“Looks like Sen. David Perdue is too much of a coward to debate me again. Perdue can’t defend his lies about COVID-19, self-dealing stock trades, his bigotry, or his votes to take away Georgians’ health care. Senator, come on out and try to defend your record. I’m ready to go,” he said.
Leaders in both U.S. Senate races in Georgia this year failed to garner a majority of the votes, triggering runoffs.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) reacts to her supporters during an Election Night party at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta In Buckhead in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 3, 2020. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The other race has Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and pastor Raphael Warnock going head to head after emerging as the top two candidates in a jungle election to finish retired Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-Ga.) term.
The Atlanta Press Club said that two debates will still take place on Dec. 6, one for each race.
“The Atlanta Press Club’s Loudermilk-Young Debate Series is disappointed that Sen. David Perdue has decided to not participate in his debate,” the club said in a statement.
“Jon Ossoff has confirmed his participation, so according to our rules, we will proceed with the debate and Sen. Perdue will be represented by an empty podium.”
The club said it hoped Perdue would change his mind.
The update came as the National Republican Senatorial Committee said Sunday that both Ossoff and Warnock should halt “inflammatory rhetoric” as leftist agitators attacked President Donald Trump supporters in Washington.
“Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff continue to use rhetoric that feeds into the increased violence against conservatives,” committee spokesperson Nathan Brand said in a statement. “If Ossoff and Warnock really have an interest in ‘uniting the country’ they should condemn the latest attacks and stop using the inflammatory language they have been on the campaign trail.”
Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock of Georgia speaks to supporters during a rally in Marietta, Ga. on Nov. 15, 2020. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Warnock told a crowd in 2016 that Americans needed to “repent” for producing Trump, who had not yet won the presidency at the time.
“No matter what happens next month, more than a third of the nation that would go along with this, is reason to be afraid. America needs to repent for its worship of whiteness, on full display this season,” Warnock added.
Ossoff, meanwhile, said during a speech in January that he hoped “to send a message that if you indulge this kind of politics, you’re not just going to get beaten, you’re going to get beaten so bad that you can never run or show your face again in public.” He was referring to Trump supporters.
Warnock said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” last week that he was being attacked by his opponent.
“Loeffler has spent her time engaged in the politics of division,” he said, adding, “I am going to stay focused on Georgia families.”