Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is vying to unseat Georgia Sen. David Perdue on Jan. 5’s runoff election, stood next to an empty podium at a townhall Sunday night in Atlanta, and slammed his opponent for bowing out of the face-off.
“He’s so arrogant that he disregarded public health expertise, and so arrogant that he’s not with us here today to answer questions. Your senator feels entitled to your vote. He believes this Senate seat belongs to him,” Ossoff said of the Republican incumbent.
Perdue has debated Ossoff twice previously but denied an invitation from the Atlanta Press Club to do so again.
“While he has been enriching himself in office, he’s been blocking relief,” Ossoff continued, noting that Perdue was opposed to the first round of stimulus checks in the previous COVID-19 relief bill.
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The Democrat frequently brought up Perdue’s stock trades, which were investigated for insider trading after he bought up stocks in Pfizer and PPE maker DuPont. A number of senators have come under fire for their trades after a closed-door briefing on coronavirus that Perdue claims he did not attend.
Debate moderators told Ossoff that Perdue’s trades had been federally investigated and resulted in no charges.
Still, Ossoff said he had seen no evidence to prove Perdue’s innocence. Ossoff invited the senator, if he was watching: “If you have any evidence that Fed investigators have exonerated you, you should present it.”
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Ossoff again turned to Perdue’s opposition to stimulus checks while he was allegedly “enriching himself,” calling it a “cartoonish abuse of power.”
“We have got to rush direct financial relief to families and businesses,” Ossoff said, adding that Congress “should be in emergency session right now.”
Though Perdue at one point said he was “personally opposed” to stimulus checks and favored support for the Paycheck Protection Program, he voted for the CARES Act, which included $1,200 stimulus checks.
Ossoff challenged Perdue to six debates ahead of the Jan. 5 election. “This is one of the most consequential elections in Georgia history, unfolding amid a health and economic crisis, but it appears Sen. Perdue is too much of a coward to defend his record in a public debate. If Sen. Perdue doesn’t want to answer questions, that’s fine, he just shouldn’t run for reelection to the U.S. Senate,” Ossoff said in a statement in November. “I offer the senator any or all of these six debates, if he has the self-confidence to debate in public.”
“We’ve already had two debates in this election. In each, Ossoff lied repeatedly, and of course the media failed to hold him accountable,” Perdue communications director John Burke replied in a statement.