Ossoff forced to debate empty podium after Perdue refuses to show

Jon Ossoff has said Sen. David Perdue didn’t want to debate because he didn’t want to 'incriminate himself.'

Loading the player...

Georgia Sen. David Perdue refused to participate in Sunday’s Georgia Senatorial run-off debate, leaving his challenger, Jon Ossoff, to face an empty podium. 

All eyes are on The Peach State as two U.S. Senate races ending in less than a month will determine which political party has control. 

Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff speaks to the crowd during an outdoor drive-in rally Saturday in Conyers, Georgia. Ossoff faces Republican incumbent Sen. David Purdue in a runoff election taking place Jan. 5th. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Russ Spencer of Atlanta’s Fox5 was the moderator. He introduced Perdue’s empty podium by saying the Republican legislator “declined to participate.” 

Perdue said last month he would not debate Ossoff, who previously — and viciously — took the senator to task for being the subject of multiple federal investigations for insider trading during the coronavirus pandemic. A clip of that debate, held in October, went viral. 

Ossoff has claimed that Perdue didn’t want to debate because he didn’t want to “incriminate himself” amid his controversy as one of the most active stock traders in Congress. 

The Democratic candidate, who is Jewish, also took a strong stance on criminal justice and took on the issue of race in America head-on.

“Criminal justice reform is one of the urgent, moral issues of our time. Our constitution already guarantees equal protection under the law, but when Ahmaud Arbery is shot to death in broad daylight in the street on camera in Glenn County, Georgia, and because he is a young Black man local authorities looked the other way, that makes a mockery of equal protection under the law,” said Ossoff.

He added, “Let me be very candid about this … growing up as a white man in Georgia I have never known what it means to fear I could lose my life or face false accusations or miscarriage of justice just because of who I am. But I do know that is a daily fear for Black people across this country.”

On the contrary, Perdue has been an opponent of criminal justice reform as a U.S. senator. He joined a small group of conservative senators who refused to support a major bipartisan bill on criminal justice legislation that had gained support from even the Trump White House and the infamous Koch brothers.

On Sunday, Ossoff further took Sen. Perdue to task, stating, “The reason that we are losing thousands of people per day to this virus is because of the arrogance of politicians like David Perdue. So arrogant that he disregarded public health expertise and so arrogant that he’s not with us here today to answer questions.”

Read More: Loeffler says there ‘isn’t a racist bone’ in her body at debate, refuses to say Trump lost election

“It shows an astonishing arrogance and sense of entitlement for Georgia’s senior U.S. senator to believe he shouldn’t have to debate at a moment like this in our history,” he added.

#PerduesPodium and #WhereIsDavidPerdue were both trending on Twitter in the Senator’s absence.

Read More: CNN reporter calls Trump’s ‘right-wing media diet’ his downfall

Nonetheless, his campaign claimed victory.

“Tonight we witnessed something we didn’t know was possible: a candidate lost a debate against himself. An epic failure,” said Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry. “Jon Ossoff came out in support of blanket amnesty, a national lockdown and made clear he doesn’t want to ‘get bogged down in the details’ about additional COVID relief. These are serious times and Jon Ossoff just showed how unserious — and unprepared — he really is. Georgians will reject Jon Ossoff once again next month.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!

Loading the player...