Warnock hits back against Loeffler attacks in new ads
Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock on Thursday and Friday hit back against attacks from Sen. Kelly Loeffler in public comments and in two new ads, as the runoff that could decide control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years gets personal with less than eight weeks until the runoff election.
In one Friday ad where Warnock appears addressing a camera, he slams Loeffler as having “no vision” and leaning only on “division” in her campaign. In another, Warnock accuses Loeffler of financial improprieties regarding the pandemic.
“Since her appointment, Kelly Loeffler has only been looking out for one person…herself,” Warnock says in a tweet with the ad.
Meanwhile, Loeffler has characterized her opponent as “a radical” with a “socialist agenda” who is “refusing to answer questions” about his past.
Loeffler has specifically attacked Warnock, a pastor himself, over his past association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has a history of anti-Semitic comments, and over a 2002 arrest of Warnock for allegedly obstructing a child abuse probe. Charges were later dropped against Warnock for the arrest, and he said at the time and still maintains that he was trying to ensure lawyers were present as police were interviewing youth counselors. Warnock also said Thursday he was not in charge of the youth program.
“I was a youth pastor 25 years ago at a church. I had nothing to do with that program. The sad thing is they know it. But if you don’t really have an agenda for working families I guess you have to distract working families,” Warnock said at a press conference when asked about the allegations.
“Raphael Warnock should come clean and answer why he obstructed a child abuse investigation and what role he played in the incident,” Loeffler Communications Director Stephen Lawson said in a statement Friday, after Warnock’s Thursday explanation.
Warnock also Thursday addressed the attacks against his association with Wright.
“People who have followed my career and my ministry know that I have always worked very hard to bring people together rather than to divide people,” Warnock said. “I have spent my whole career standing up against bigotry, hatred, xenophobia, wherever it shows up and whoever the source is.”
Warnock in 2008, as then-candidate Barack Obama was under fire for his association with Wright, appeared on Fox News and elsewhere to defend both Wright and Obama.
The candidate Thursday also turned around the bigotry accusation against Loeffler, noting her endorsement from Georgia Representative-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene and an interview she did on One America News Network.
“Kelly Loeffler, on the other hand, sits down for interviews with known White supremacists. And she gleefully accepts the endorsement of a candidate who traffics in the QAnon conspiracy theory that is rife with hatred and bigotry,” Warnock said. “It is shameful.”
The Warnock ad attacking Loeffler over financial improprieties is based on accusations that she made improper stock sales ahead of the coronavirus pandemic. Lawson of Loeffler’s campaign said that the ad amounted to “peddling a total debunked lie to play politics.”
“As Kelly Loeffler downplays the threat publicly, she makes sale after sale, getting rid of $3.1 million before the market crashes. Kelly’s for Kelly. Warnock is for us,” the ad says.
But in early June an ethics probe dismissed a complaint against Loeffler, as well as Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
Loeffler, whose net worth is well over $150 million, said an adviser made the trades in question and she had no input in them. She sold between $1.2 million and $3.1 million in stocks, representing just a fraction of her net worth.
Warnock also on Thursday accused Loeffler of being “for getting rid of health care in the middle of a pandemic,” likely a reference to a GOP-backed lawsuit aimed at overturning the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
As the Loeffler-Warnock race increasingly turns into a food fight, the other Georgia Senate runoff between Sen. David Perdue and Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff is also reaching fever pitch.
Ossoff spent days trolling Perdue online about his absence from the campaign trail as Perdue was in Washington, D.C., for votes without logging public appearances.
“This doggo has made more public appearances this week than David Perdue,” one Ossoff tweet read.
“It has been 9 days since a majority of Georgians rejected David Perdue’s agenda,” an Ossoff spokesperson said Thursday. “He clearly feels no obligation to make his case to earn their votes, and hiding behind a vote schedule when the whole world knows how to Zoom is a pathetic excuse from a politician too weak to defend his record.”
Meanwhile, Perdue campaign Communications Director John Burke said “It’s shameful to see Ossoff criticize Senator Perdue for doing his duty and working to pass much-needed COVID-19 relief for Georgians.”
Burke also said Ossoff, who has been the CEO of a media company and a policy aide in Congress, “may not understand what having a real job is like, since he’s never had one, but it’s David Perdue’s job to represent the people of Georgia as their senator.”
The races are drawing in participation from a litany of boldface names on both sides of the aisle, either through fundraising or in-person campaigning. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., will appear at an event backing Loeffler and Perdue Friday after his Florida Republican counterpart Sen. Marco Rubio campaigned in Georgia for the incumbents on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have flexed their fundraising muscles in the Georgia race. Former Democratic presidential candidate and potential Cabinet pick for President-elect Biden Pete Buttigieg joined Warnock for a virtual fundraiser Thursday.
The race is eventually expected to attract participation from both Obama and President Trump.
The elections are on Jan. 5 and the voter registration deadline for the runoffs is on Dec. 7.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.