The race to replace retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss kicked off with a round of Republican debates which began Saturday January 18th in Adel, Ga. In attendance were Art Gardener, Rep. Paul Braun, David Perdue, Rep. Jack Kingston, Eugene Yu, Derrick Greyson, and Handle. Noticeably absent was Phil Gingrey. The debate drew a large crowd to the Cook County Performing Arts Center. They seemed to have an issue with making people obtain tickets, but not at the entrance, so as people tried to enter they were turned away to go get a ticket at the box office. This would have been logical if they were charging, but the tickets were actually free. It would have made much more sense to deal with the tickets at the exterior doors or the interior doors leading to the auditorium.
Tea Party spokesperson and radio host Martha Zoeller moderated. Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College's James Gault-Brown and and Valdosta State University's Nick Buford asked the questions. Nick Buford is a representative of the Republican attempt to reach out to minorities in response to the autopsy report they issued after the 2012 loss and their glaring problems with women, minorities and the LGBT community.
Candidates focused on bashing President Obama as it was red meat for this crowd. Braun answered most every question with a reference to his healthcare plan which according to him is the answer to the problems with healthcare in America. Kingston says the solution to our healthcare problems is repeal the Affordable Care Act and to let the market correct, ignoring the fact that the market based system was what caused all the problems we have been having for decades. The market does not encourage insurance companies to insure those with pre-existing conditions. Kingston was also proud of the fact he stood up to Vice-President Dick Cheney when it came to TARP funding. Art Gardner was refreshing in that he is well aware of the problems with messaging and minority voters the party has. Sadly, the only standing ovation came when the candidates were asked how they would reach to the minoriy communities. Derrick Greyson, the only African-American candidate told the questioner not to refer to him as African-American, denying his heritage. The crowd, which was largely devoid of minorities, gave him a standing ovation for this. The Republican battle to understand and reach out to minorities rages on and is failing miserably.
Social issues were all but ignored for the night. The candidates did manage not to claim that women cannot get pregnant from being raped, as Braun and Gingrey have previously claimed. They did manage not to say that all immigrants need to be deported. In rural south Georgia this would not be an acceptable position to the farming community.