ADEL — Georgia’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates repeatedly took swipes at one another here Saturday night in the first of seven GOP-sponsored debates as they heaped scorn on the Affordable Care Act, the federal debt and activist judges.
The race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss is drawing national attention because of the wide-open Republican primary and the Democratic candidacy of Michelle Nunn, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn’s daughter.
Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, often took aim at U.S. Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston during the debate.
“Our country is in trouble and it is because of the fundamental lack of leadership and complete inability to get the job done in Congress,” said Handel, who narrowly lost the GOP primary runoff for the governor’s mansion in 2010. “Everything that they have talked about tonight they have had every opportunity to do and they haven’t.”
Kingston called himself “a soldier for the conservative cause” and highlighted his efforts to cut federal spending, including spending from his own congressional office.
“We need somebody who is a proven hard-worker, who is frugal and who has a vision and who can get the job done,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am ready and willing and able to serve.”
Broun said three words describe him: “consistent, conservative, Christian.”
“We have got to cut spending,” he said. “We have got to put this country back on the right track. We have got to get our economy going. And that is what I have been fighting for ever since I came to Washington.”
Gingrey did not attend the debate.
David Perdue, former CEO of Dollar General, described himself as an outsider with the business experience needed in Congress.
“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’m in here because we have a full-blown financial crisis. It’s real. It’s here right now. And it is dead serious. I believe our career politicians have created it. If this were a business, we would hold them accountable.”