WASHINGTON — Former Sen. David Perdue lashed out at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on the eve of Georgia's primary elections with racist remarks accusing her of "demeaning her own race" in characterizing some of the state's challenges.
Perdue, who is trailing in the GOP primary race for governor, made the comments at his final campaign event in Dunwoody, Georgia, on Monday, when he sat for an interview with right-wing radio personality John Fredericks, a Trump-supporting host of a show on Real America’s Voice News.
Perdue attacked Abrams, who is Black, for saying over the weekend that Georgia was the worst state in the country to live in, referring to its poor maternal mortality rankings and incarceration rates, among other things.
"She said that 'Georgia is the worst place in the country to live.' Hey, she ain’t from here," Perdue said. "Let her go back where she came from. She doesn’t like it here. The only thing she wants is to be president of the United States. She doesn't care about the people in Georgia."
He continued by citing remarks Abrams made in 2018. "When she told Black farmers you don’t need to be on the farm and she told Black workers in hospitality and all this you don’t need to be ... she is demeaning her own race when it comes to that."
Perdue appeared to be referring to comments Abrams made during her first campaign for governor, in 2018, when she drew criticism for saying: "I want to create a lot of different jobs, because people shouldn’t have to go into agriculture or hospitality in Georgia to make a living in Georgia. Why not create renewable energy jobs? Because, I’m going to tell y’all a secret, climate change is real," according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In an interview Monday with MSNBC host Joy Reid, Abrams acknowledged her remarks over the weekend were "inartfully delivered" but said they were "well intended."
Abrams said she was trying to articulate that constituents across the state have indicated they're "deeply in pain" and concerned about the actions of GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, including allowing the end of extra pandemic-related food aid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and striking several million dollars from the state budget for HIV and AIDS medical care.
"My point is well intended, which is that for so many Georgians, this is not the No. 1 place to be, but we have the capacity for greatness, and if people didn’t splice the pieces they like and actually listened to my entire narrative, my point is that I want more for Georgia," she said. "I believe in our greatness. I moved here the first time because my parents brought me. I came back the second time because this is where I want to live."
Asked to respond to Perdue's remark Monday about how Abrams has been "demeaning her race," Abrams seemed to brush it off, talking instead about what she described as failures by Republicans to provide health insurance and other benefits to Georgians.
"We are No. 2 in the nation for the uninsured, which means the poorest among us who are in the most desperate need of help are still being told by this governor and this Republican Party we will not help you," she said. "I can apologize all day for my phrasing, but I will never apologize for my meaning, and that is that we need to serve the people of Georgia, and we mean to make Georgia better for everyone."
Asked again about Perdue’s comments at a news conference Tuesday, Abrams said she didn't want to respond, adding that Republicans have attacked her for the last six months but have done "nothing to attack the challenges facing Georgia" or "to articulate their plans for the future of Georgia."
"I urge everyone to pay less attention to rhetoric and more attention to the record and to the results," she said.