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Monday, July 14, 2014 - 3:55am

Kingston, Perdue Tar Each Other With 'Manufactured' Scandals In GOP Senate Debate

Updated: 4 months ago.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (left) and businessman David Perdue (right) clashed Sunday in the only televised debate ahead of their July 22 Republican U.S. Senate primary run-off. (Kingston photo by GPB's Jeanne Bonner, Perdue photo drawn from Perdue campaign ad)

The Republican race for Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat is getting personal with two weeks to go.

At the only televised debate of the primary run-off Sunday on GPB, Congressman Jack Kingston tried to make businessman David Perdue's great personal wealth an issue.

"You live in a gated community inside a gated community and have a gate at your house,” Kingston said to Perdue. “How are you gonna work with John Q. Public when they come up to you and have questions?"

Perdue, a former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, responded defensively.

“I was raised in Warner Robins, Georgia, my mom and dad were school teachers, I worked my way through school at Georgia Tech, I grew up working on a farm,” Perdue said. “I've been very blessed in my career, and I'm not gonna apologize for that success."

The winner of the July 22 runoff will face Democrat Michelle Nunn and Libertarian Amanda Swafford in November.

During a portion of the Atlanta Press Club debate in which the candidates were allowed to ask each other questions, both used the opportunity to tar each other with scandal.

Kingston accused Perdue of personally profiting from his former position on the Georgia Ports Authority board. Perdue implied that a Palestinian felon funneled money to Kingston's campaign to get help with his immigration troubles.

"You didn't talk about jobs or national security,” said panelist Ben Roberts of WALB-TV in Albany, in response to the questions Kingston and Perdue chose to ask each other.

“You basically tried to attack each other with what may or may not be a manufactured scandal,” Roberts said. “Isn't that the kind of cynical campaigning that Georgia voters are sick of?"

Neither candidate answered Roberts' question directly.

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