Georgia’s U.S. Senate hopefuls gathered in Atlanta for their latest debate last night, and viewers saw a striking encapsulation of contemporary politics.
Michelle Nunn (D), echoing her usual message, emphasized the need for compromise. “I just don’t believe that it’s one party or the other. I think it has to be both sides coming together,” she said. “I think that we do have a very clear contrast in terms of how we see breaking through that dysfunction. I don’t think it’s about prosecuting the other party; I think it’s about problem-solving.”
At which point, David Perdue (R) dismissed this approach out of hand.
“I disagree,” Perdue answered. “When you have a failed presidency, you have to prosecute it,” he said…. “When we look at the direction of this country, we’ve got to make a hard right-hand turn.”
Those 31 words are arguably the most emblematic I’ve heard in a while of the current partisan divide. The Democrat struck a non-partisan tone, emphasizing governing and problem-solving, while the Republican forcefully rejected such an approach, insisting instead on a “hard right-hand turn.” Every pundit who likes to maintain the fiction that “both sides” are to blame for Capitol Hill dysfunction should keep this exchange in mind.
Benjy Sarlin reported overnight, “Perdue told reporters after the debate that the ‘hard right-hand turn’ was ‘a metaphorical statement, not a political statement.’”
I honestly have no idea what that means. A Senate candidate appeared at a debate. His opponent said policymakers should focus on governing. He said he disagreed and demanded the United States take a “hard right-hand turn.”
Obviously, it was metaphorical – David Perdue wasn’t giving anyone driving directions – but for the far-right candidate to argue his comments weren’t “political” is so hopelessly ridiculous, it’s alarming that the Republican said this with a straight face.
As for the rest of the debate, Nunn spent the bulk of her time reminding voters that Perdue has specialized in outsourcing American jobs, while Perdue spent the bulk of his time emphasizing how much he hates the president.
On the outsourcing issue, however, the Republican seems rattled.
Perdue said some of the outsourcing claims were false and that his work in Asia at companies like Sara Lee entailed production overseas that was not necessarily tied to American operations.“[The testimony] never says I outsourced jobs, not one time,” he said.But Perdue has openly defended some unambiguous outsourcing moves in the past, such as his decision to shift clothing production overseas while an executive at Haggar’s to cut costs.
Georgia’s U.S. Senate race is now considered one of the nation’s most competitive. Early voting in the state is already underway.