GOP in Disarray: “Raw Hatred” on Display in First GA Gov. Debate

April 25, 2022

“It was less a debate and more of a barroom brawl.”

Last night’s first Republican gubernatorial debate, likened to an episode of the Jerry Springer show, was more of a “barroom brawl” than an actual debate. David Perdue and Brian Kemp spent the majority of the debate arguing, accusing each other of lying, and hurling bitter personal attacks at each other. The Democratic Party of Georgia released a video shortly after the debate concluded, which highlights the “incoherent bickering” between the two candidates and the disarray of the Georgia GOP.

Watch: “Incoherent Bickering”

Before the Republican debate took place, Georgians joined a press conference raising important questions that voters deserve answers to from both candidates.

Read more about the nasty Republican free-for-all on display at the first debate:

AJC: The Jolt: Takeaways from the brawl between Brian Kemp and David Perdue

  • The first 23 minutes of the debate revolved around Perdue’s efforts to blame Kemp for Donald Trump’s loss in 2020 and the senator’s defeat in 2021.
  • It was the first time that Kemp and Perdue had met face-to-face since Perdue announced his challenge in December – a move that Kemp saw as a ruthless betrayal. In one exchange after another, the two pummeled each other.
  • Several times, the two GOP candidates shouted over each other.
  • “Did you bring a bulletproof vest?” read a text that one of your insiders received shortly before the debate began.
  • Veteran GOP strategist Brian Robinson likened the matchup to an episode of the Jerry Springer show.
  • “I’ve never seen such raw hatred in a debate on the state level,” he said. “It’s at the same level as those paternity test shows where the mom throws a chair at a man who swears he can’t be the father.”
  • The real winner of the debate: While the two GOP rivals went blow-for-blow, Stacey Abrams and her Democratic allies dispatched a string of press releases and fundraising appeals mocking the Republicans.
  • And the first TV ad to air on WSB after the hour-long debate ended? An Abrams spot featuring her own small business with her conservative entrepreneur partner.
  • Abrams has long planned to exploit the GOP divisions in November. The debate – and the next two showdowns – give her campaign even more ammo to hurl against whoever wins.

CNN: Kemp and Perdue clash over 2020 election results at Georgia GOP governor’s debate

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue clashed over the results of the 2020 election during the state’s GOP governor’s debate Sunday night, blaming each other for Democratic gains in the last election cycle.
  • Perdue accused Kemp of passing the blame onto others and said that made him a “weak” leader. Kemp immediately returned the attack. 
  • “Weak leaders blame everybody else for their own losses instead of blaming themselves,” he said. 
  • Speaking to CNN following the debate, Perdue said he exposed a “weak governor.” Kemp, meanwhile, declined to answer CNN’s questions as he left the debate site at WSB-TV’s studio in midtown Atlanta.

AJC’s Politically Georgia podcast: Kemp and Perdue face-off in fiery first debate

  • “I think a debate like this doesn’t help the Republican cause in particular, because it just seems very personal, very aggressive, and very backward looking — and they did not get into a lot of detail about what they would do as governor for the next four years,” said Patricia Murphy, AJC Political Columnist and Politically Georgia co-host.
  • “…it seemed like throughout this debate David Perdue really got under Governor Kemp’s skin,” said Greg Bluestein, AJC Political Reporter and Politically Georgia co-host.
  • “…they called each other liars and they are recalling conversations they had…this was very personal,” said Leroy Chapman Jr., AJC Senior Managing Editor.

POLITICO: Election fraud claims dominate Georgia GOP governor’s debate

  • Perdue, the former senator who is Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate, sparred with Gov. Brian Kemp on the issue for almost half of the one-hour GOP debate Sunday night, accusing the governor of trying to “bury the truth” about the 2020 election.
  • Kemp aimed to brand his challenger as damaged goods, saying several times that Perdue lost his last election to Democrat Sen. Jon Ossoff. Politico
  • “Weak leaders take credit when things go well, and blame someone else when it doesn’t,” Perdue said.
  • Kemp’s response: “Weak leaders blame everybody else for their own loss instead of themselves.”


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