Republican candidates debate in Savannah |


Republican candidates debate in Savannah |

The Georgia Republican Party along with local GOP organizations hosted their fifth U.S. Senate debate at Savannah Arts Academy last night.

The seven candidates, Reps. Paul Broun, Art Gardner, Phil Gingrey, Derrick Grayson, Karen Handel, Jack Kingston and David Perdue are running for the seat of retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss who announced in January 2013 that he would not seek a third term in 2014.

The debate was moderated by radio talk show host Tim Bryant and was the fifth Senate debate this year sponsored by the Georgia Republican Party.

Here is a summary of the candidates’ answers to some questions:


Q: What is your campaign doing right now to reach out to nontraditional voters?

Handel stressed the importance of Republican party members being able to relate to all citizens.

Handel said: “As part of any campaign, obviously you want to take your message wherever and whenever you possibly can. I think the key for the Republican party is to make sure we have individuals that can articulate why conservative principles make the family stronger and our state stronger and our nation stronger,” she said. “We know that the way to lift people out of poverty is to get our economy going again by creating good quality jobs… Getting the economy going and having good jobs isn’t about creating more minimum wage jobs, it’s about creating high quality, good stable jobs and as we’re out talking about this, we have to make sure we have articulate messengers for our party. People that will go out and speak honestly and candidly and relate and connect with every Georgian, not just the traditional GOP supporter.”

Gardner said: “This has been and continues to be an essential component of my campaign. I have made it one of my missions to push the message that our party definitely needs to change. Many groups are pushed away from our party by the hard-right social stance we’ve taken over the last 20 or 30 years and those people you say are ‘nontraditional’ voters or ‘nontraditional’ Republicans, those people just walked away from us because we’ve taken those hard right positions, so I’ve been trying to deliver the message from one corner of this state to the other and every debate I go to, every chance I get on the radio, ‘Look, we’ve got to stop pushing those people away because we need those people back.’ We need young people, we need gays, we need minorities and we need the women we’ve been pushing away. That is absolutely essential for the growth of our party over time. If we don’t do this we’re going to start losing elections.”

Kingston said: “I’m a solid conservative and yet in the county in which Barack Obama got 55 percent I got 53 percent and I did it without selling out my principles. I did it by engaging, I did it by showing up, by getting outside the political comfort zone. I talk about jobs, I talk about education and crime. If you’re going to be in public policy in Chatham County or coastal Georgia you have to be able to work with other groups from other areas,” he said. “The district which I represent has a 28 percent African-American population, but they know I will show up. I will return phone calls, I will attend meetings, I will do what’s necessary to engage and build a better tomorrow for our children. You need a nominee that can get votes and I’ve proven that ability in an area that isn’t traditionally Republican.”

via Republican candidates debate in Savannah |

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