Sen. Kelly Loeffler drove home one main point in Georgia’s Senate debate Sunday night, and that was labeling her opponent Raphael Warnock a “radical liberal.”
Loeffler said that “radical liberal Raphael Warnock” had no place in Peach State politics. She called him a “radical liberal” multiple times during the debate, the first time the two squared off ahead of a runoff election in January that will help decide who controls the Senate next year.
“I cannot stand by and let Georgians not know who my opponent is, how radical his views are, and how he would fundamentally change our country,” she said. “He’s out of step with Georgia’s values.”
“Democrats want to fundamentally change America. Someone who has attacked police, attacked the military, and would raise taxes on hard-working Georgians by $2,000,” the Republican incumbent said.
Loeffler repeatedly brought up comments Warnock made in 2011, saying “you can’t serve God and the military.”
Warnock says he was referring to a Bible passage, and the comments were taken out of context. “People will turn anything into a cynical political argument.”
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Warnock brought up Loeffler’s attack ads that frequently resurrect his comments from the past. “It’s clear to me my opponent is spending millions of dollars of her own money trying to push a narrative about me because she’s decided she does not have a case for why she should stay in that seat.”
“She’s the unelected senator of Georgia,” Warnock said. “She has been appointed and Georgians have been disappointed.”
“I’m the only person in this race that knows how to help Georgians. I’ve created jobs. He’s never created a job in his life,” Loeffler responded.
“Warnock has called police gangsters, thugs, bullies and a threat to our children. He’s used the Bible to justify these types of attacks,” she said.
Warnock said that he’d actually worked closely with law enforcement in Georgia and he opposed defunding the police.
“I don’t think we should defund the police, but we certainly need criminal justice reform,” Warnock, a reverend, said. “We can do all that and celebrate police at the same time.”
Asked if she stood by previous comments calling Black Lives Matter a “fascist” organization, Loeffler did not deny them, but she did say “there’s not a racist bone in my body.”
“Well, the life of every African American is important, and there is no place for racism in this country,” she said. “But there are organizations whose number one goal is to defund the police. And we know that that hurts minority communities more than anyone. And we have to stand with our men and women of law enforcement. And I will always do that.”
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Loeffler said that Warnock would be an “agent of change” that Democrats would use to “fundamentally change America into a socialist country.” She asked Warnock to denounce socialism, to which he responded “I believe in free enterprise,” before pivoting to the senator’s early pandemic stock trades.
Warnock accused Loeffler of profiting millions from insider information on the impending devastation of the coronavirus pandemic.
“You shouldn’t use the people’s seat to enrich yourself — you ought to use the people’s seat to represent the people,” he said.
“More lies from radical liberal Raphael Warnock,” Loeffler responded. She said she had been exonerated by federal investigations and the Senate ethics committee. The ethics committee dropped its probe of her trades after she said she’d been unaware of them and they’d been carried out by a third-party adviser.
Asked directly if he supported adding justices to the Supreme Court, Warnock sidestepped the question multiple times.
“People aren’t asking me about the courts and whether we should expand the courts,” he said, saying voters are more interested in pandemic relief. Asked again to address the question, he said “I’m really not focused on it.”
Loeffler’s seized on Warnock’s vague answer. “He also is distracting from the fact that he would pack the Supreme Court,” she said. “That’s outrageous. … He would pack the court with radical justices that would legislate from the bench to fundamentally override the Constitution and our laws in this country.”
Loeffler, for her part, refused to say whether she agreed with President Trump’s assertions that the November election in Georgia was “rigged.”
Instead, she repeatedly said Trump “has every right to every legal recourse.”
“It’s very clear there were issues in this election, there were 250 investigations into it,” Loeffler said. “But we have to make sure Georgians trust this process because of what’s at stake.”
In her concluding statement, Loeffler said a win for Warnock brings Democrats a step closer to their agenda: “increase taxes, open borders, socialize health care.”