Dec 6, 2020
Georgia Senate Runoff Debate Transcript: Kelly Loeffler vs. Raphael Warnock
Republican Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock participated in a December 6, 2020 debate ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff election in Atlanta. Read the full transcript of the debate here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Russ Spencer: (00:10)
Good evening and welcome. I’m Russ Spencer evening anchor for FOX 5 in Atlanta, and you were watching The Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk-Young Debate Series. We are broadcasting from the studio of Georgia Public Broadcasting Atlanta, and we welcome viewers from across the state and the country. This is the runoff debate for US Senate to fill the seat currently held by Georgia, Senator Kelly Loeffler, and let’s meet the candidates now.
Russ Spencer: (00:31)
They are in alphabetical order, Republican candidate Kelly Loeffler. She was appointed to the US Senate in January of 2020 to replace retiring Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson. She is also part owner of Atlanta’s WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream. Democrat candidate Raphael Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Ebenezer of course, the church where Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor.
Russ Spencer: (00:54)
Let’s meet our panel now. Greg Bluestein is a political reporter with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Lisa Rayam is host and senior producer of NPR’s morning edition on WABE Radio in Atlanta. Now let’s get started. The topics were not shared with the candidates in advance. The debate will be divided into three rounds and in each round, candidates will have 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for a rebuttal. And as moderator, I will determine when a rebuttal is appropriate. In the first round, candidates will be asked two questions each. And Greg, you get the first question to Senator Loeffler.
Greg Bluestein: (01:28)
As Senator Loeffler, thanks for joining us. President Trump opened his election rally last night by falsely claiming he won Georgia. He didn’t. According to certified state election results, he lost the state by about 12,000 votes. Do you stand by his narrative that the election was rigged and do you support his demand that Governor Kemp to call a special session to seek to overturn those results?
Kelly Loeffler: (01:47)
Well, first I want to thank the Atlanta Press Club for hosting this important debate. And look, it’s vitally important that Georgians trust our election process and the president has every right to every legal recourse and that’s what’s taking place. But I’ve called for investigations and the others 250 investigations open here in Georgia. But the president was also clear that Georgians need to come out and vote for David Perdue and myself because of what’s at stake in this election.
Kelly Loeffler: (02:18)
You know, Chuck Schumer said, “Now we take Georgia then we change America.” We all know what that change would be. They’ve been very clear. They want to raise taxes on hardworking Georgians. They want to defund the police. They want to open our borders. They want to implement the green new deal. I’m fighting for every single Georgian to live the American dream that I was blessed to live.
Greg Bluestein: (02:41)
Senator, do you believe that the election was rigged?
Kelly Loeffler: (02:44)
Look, Greg, it’s very clear that there were issues in this election. There are 250 investigations open, including an investigation into one of my opponents organizations for voter fraud. And we have to make sure that Georgians trust this process because of what’s at stake in this election. The promise that Chuck Schumer made was to fundamentally change America and I’m making sure that we don’t go down the road of socialism.
Russ Spencer: (03:12)
Lisa, your turn to ask a question to Reverend Warnock.
Lisa Rayam: (03:15)
Dr. Warnock, good evening?
Raphael Warnock: (03:16)
Lisa Rayam: (03:17)
As a pastor, there are those who are a little uncomfortable with someone switching from the pulpit to the Senate floor in Washington. If elected, how will you navigate the US constitution’s edict separating church and state?
Raphael Warnock: (03:31)
Thank you so very much. It’s wonderful to be here and I want to thank everybody who tuned in tonight. I also became aware that Senator Loeffler lost a member of her staff, and I want to extend my condolences to her and also to the family of that young man. Listen, my whole life has been about service. It is why I entered into the ministry and I am running for the United States Senate as a continuation of that life project.
Raphael Warnock: (04:06)
The thing about me running for the Senate is that this gives me an opportunity to work on the issues I’ve been working on for years. I’ve been fighting for access to affordable healthcare, I’ve been fighting for voting rights, I’ve been fighting for is essential workers, ordinary people, because I know what it’s like to be an ordinary person. I grew up in public housing, the first college graduate in my family of 12 number. I’m 11 and if it were not for Pell Grants, low-interest student loans, I wouldn’t be here. I know the importance of good federal policy.
Lisa Rayam: (04:36)
Your goal is to work for fighting families, but what does that translate into beyond affordable housing and healthcare, as you just mentioned?
Raphael Warnock: (04:43)
Well, we got to make sure that we center ordinary people in all of the policy that we do. I grew up with a father and a mother who instilled into me great values, and my dad had a way of saying, “Get up and put your shoes on.” And so he gave me the sense of a work ethic. But if I’m honest, that alone would not put me here on this stage. I mean, here’s a kid who grew up in public housing, I’m running for the United States Senate against the wealthiest member of Congress.
Raphael Warnock: (05:14)
Only in America is that possible and I am fighting to make sure that kids like me, whether they are growing up in public housing, down in Savannah, Georgia, or rural disaffected communities in North Georgia, that they have access to the American dream that I believe so much in. And I’m concerned that Washington is not focused on ordinary people. You can’t tell the difference between Washington back rooms and corporate boardrooms. My opponent represents the worst of that kind of problem and that’s why I’m grateful for this opportunity.
Kelly Loeffler: (05:49)
I’d like to respond.
Russ Spencer: (05:50)
Kelly Loeffler: (05:51)
Thank you. I was born and raised on a farm. I grew up working in the fields. I waitressed my way through school and I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I worked hard to live the American dream and became a job creator right here in Georgia. But this type of rhetoric is a distraction from the issues at hand. The Democrats want to fundamentally change America and the agent of change is my opponent radical liberal Raphael Warnock, someone that has had attacked police from the pulpit, someone that has attacked our military, someone that has agreed to raise taxes on hardworking Georgians, as much as $2,000 per family off the bats. That’s not what Georgians need to get through this pandemic and get our economy going. I’m fighting for the American dream every day.
Russ Spencer: (06:38)
Okay. Reverend, you’re going to have an opportunity to respond to those things because I know Greg is going to get to them. It’s his turn to ask you a question.
Greg Bluestein: (06:43)
Yeah. I have a question on that same topic. You’ve been attacked for comments you made from the pulpit about law enforcement in the military foreign policy among others. You’ve also said they’re taken out of context, but you made these remarks in a public forum. Why shouldn’t Georgians take them at face value?
Raphael Warnock: (06:58)
Look, it’s clear to me that my opponent is going to work really hard, spending millions of dollars of her own money, trying to push a narrative about me because she’s clearly decided that she does not have a case to be made for why she should stay in that seat. I have worked my whole life to pull people together. I’ve been working on criminal justice reform. I’ve worked alongside law enforcement officers to do that work. Several years ago, I actually brought together the law enforcement officers here in this city, the chief of police, the Black Lives Matter activists, the sitting attorney general, families, parents all in my church, focused on working on these issues that we’ve seen emerge time and time again.
Raphael Warnock: (07:51)
And we need somebody who knows how to bring people together rather than using these issues as a political point to be made. These issues are tragic and our law enforcement officers lay it on the line every day. They have an ally with me. I just think that you can affirm what law enforcement officers do and hold them accountable.
Russ Spencer: (08:11)
Senator Loeffler, 30 seconds.
Kelly Loeffler: (08:14)
My opponent, radical liberal Raphael Warnock has called police officers gangsters, thugs, bullies and a threat to our children. When I gave him the chance to apologize in our first debate, he declined. He’s also said that you can’t serve God and the military. He’s used the Bible to justify these types of attacks and make other divisive statements. What we need is someone who can bring together that can help us get through this pandemic and rebuild our economy across this country and right here in Georgia. That’s what I’m fighting to do.
Russ Spencer: (08:45)
Do you want to put that into context?
Raphael Warnock: (08:47)
Sure. I’d love to respond. Listen, this is why I think folks have turned off from politics very often because people will turn anything into a kind of cynical political argument. I was preaching that day from a very familiar Matthew texts that says you can’t serve God and mammon. It was a sermon about a moral foundation for everything that we do and that when you have everything in order, that actually makes you a better soldier. It also makes you a better Senator and had Kelly Loeffler listened to the sermon rather than trying to make a cheap political point, she wouldn’t have used her advantage as US Senator to make millions on a pandemic while playing it down to the people she was supposed to be representing.
Russ Spencer: (09:34)
Lisa, it’s your…
Kelly Loeffler: (09:35)
I’d like to respond.
Russ Spencer: (09:36)
Oh, go ahead please.
Kelly Loeffler: (09:38)
I’m a Christian, I’m a person of deep faith. I don’t need a lecture from someone who has used the Bible to not only justify attacking our military. That’s not in Matthew 6:24. It doesn’t say you can’t serve the military and God, but he’s also used the Bible to justify abortion. I cannot stand by and let Georgians not know who my opponent is, how radical his views are and how he would fundamentally change our country. He’s out of step with Georgia’s values.
Russ Spencer: (10:09)
All right. In the second round, you’ll get a chance to ask questions of each other. Lisa has one last question here for Senator Loeffler.
Lisa Rayam: (10:15)
Senator Loeffler, good evening? State election official Gabriel Sterling proclaim, “This has to stop.” He was referring to threats against election workers, Governor Kemp, and the secretary of state who received death threats. Sterling warn that false claims of widespread election fraud could lead to violence. He said, “Somebody is going to get killed.” At his urging, you responded by denouncing the violence, but some didn’t think that was enough. So tell us tonight, what is your message to those who’d threaten officials and have you made an effort to help lower the temperature on the behalf of the Republican party?
Kelly Loeffler: (10:53)
Well, absolutely. As someone who has been the subject of threats of violence, I absolutely denounce it. But you know, here’s what’s at stake. The future of our country hangs on this state having free, fair, trusted elections. We have built an organization within our campaign to make sure that Georgians trust this process. And president Trump has encouraged Georgians to get out and vote because the future of the country is at stake on January 5th. We need folks to trust the process because that’s what makes our democracy possible right here.
Kelly Loeffler: (11:25)
We’ve got to get to the bottom of these investigations that have started too late. There’s 250 investigations, including into Rafael Warnock’s voter registration organization for the second time for trying to register voters in New York. That doesn’t represent the voice of Georgia. I’m going to fight to make sure that we hold officials accountable for carrying out free, fair, trusted elections that are accurate.
Russ Spencer: (11:51)
Reverend, I want to ask you about this election. Much has been made of president Trump’s refusal to concede, but two years ago, Stacey Abrams refused to concede the governor’s race saying that there was voter suppression. Do you think there was voter suppression two years ago? And do you think this election has been fair?
Raphael Warnock: (12:08)
Listen, voter suppression is something that happens all across our country. It’s happened here in the state of Georgia, but Stacey Abrams did not refuse to acknowledge the fact that her opponent was the governor. Here we are several weeks after the election and Kelly Loeffler continues to cast doubt on an American democratic election. It’s time to put this behind us and get focused on the concerns of ordinary people. Well, she’s playing political games, trying to represent somebody who doesn’t live in Georgia.
Raphael Warnock: (12:43)
Georgians are wondering when are they going to get some COVID-19 relief? They’re wondering who is going to put small businesses in front of the large corporate giants. And they’re wondering when are we going to give to people we call essential workers and essential wage. I want to go to the United States Senate to stand up ordinary people. And when politicians aren’t satisfied with the voters, they try to pick their voters and that’s what’s going on right now.
Kelly Loeffler: (13:14)
May I respond?
Russ Spencer: (13:15)
Kelly Loeffler: (13:17)
Radical liberal Raphael Warnock has partnered with Stacey Abrams in these voter suppression conspiracies when in fact, we have record turnout in our state year after year. And it’s unfortunate that the focus is on a debate about who won the election when this process is still playing out and president Trump has every right to every legal recourse. But we also have to make sure that George has know that we have a process that works, that their vote is counted, and that no illegal votes are counted.
Kelly Loeffler: (13:48)
And that’s what I’m going to continue to fight for to make sure that Georgians know everything is at stake in this election. The future of our country, not just the radical ideas of the left, but the radical candidates who would defund the police, who would stand by and attack our military, and then withdraw funds that would support Chuck Schumer’s defunding of our military by 25%. And I’m going to continue to make sure that we come back from this virus strong. I’m the only candidate qualified to help rebuild our economy and get past this pandemic.
Russ Spencer: (14:18)
All right. We want to get to the point where you can ask each other questions. That does conclude the first portion of this debate. For people just tuning in, you’re watching the runoff debate for one of Georgia’s two us Senate seats. We move now to the second round where the candidates will ask each other a question. Candidates have 30 seconds to ask a question, 30 seconds to respond to their opponent’s answer. Reverend Warnock, you get the first question to Senator Loeffler.
Raphael Warnock: (14:42)
Thank you so much. Senator Loeffler, when you received the private briefing regarding the coronavirus pandemic, you dumped millions of dollars of stock in order to protect your own investments. And then weeks later, when there came an opportunity to give ordinary Georgians an extra $600 of…
Raphael Warnock: (15:02)
… to give ordinary Georgians an extra $600 of relief. You said you saw no need and called it counterproductive. Why do you think it’s counterproductive to help ordinary Georgians in the middle of a pandemic?
Kelly Loeffler: (15:15)
Well, thank you for that question, because I’ve been completely exonerated. Those are lies perpetrated by the left wing media and Democrats to distract from their radical agenda. Since I got to the Senate, I’ve worked hard to deliver relief to Georgians during this pandemic, and I’m continuing to do that. But look what Democrats have done. They have stood for stonewalling relief that I voted for twice in the Senate to deliver relief to families, to farmers, to schools and hospitals. They’re playing politics. That’s what they’re using their lies to cover up, the fact that they don’t have a positive agenda to lift Georgians up. They want to defund the police, raise your taxes, implement the Green New Deal that would crush jobs and opportunity. And what I’m working on is making sure that we can get the economy going again, that we can drive forward after this pandemic. And I’ve been working side-by-side for my colleagues to make sure that we get that done, and we have delivered results. $47 billion that I brought here to Georgia saved 1.5 million jobs at small businesses.
Russ Spencer: (16:17)
Reverend, you have 30 seconds to respond if you’d like.
Raphael Warnock: (16:20)
Listen, I do not want to defund the police, and Kelly Loeffler knows it, but she keeps saying this because she wants to distract from her own record. The truth of the matter is, were it left up to her, Georgians would not have received the $600 of expanded unemployment insurance. And they haven’t seen any relief in months, and she hasn’t done anything. She’s done nothing to provide relief for ordinary people, the folks I’m seeing all across this state who are in pain in the middle of this pandemic.
Russ Spencer: (16:52)
Senator Loeffler, it’s your turn to ask a question of Reverend Warnock.
Kelly Loeffler: (16:55)
Reverend Warnock, in your writings and your teachings you’ve repeatedly praised Marxism and the redistribution of income. Can you here and now for all Georgians renounce socialism and Marxism?
Raphael Warnock: (17:10)
Listen, I believe in our free enterprise system, and my dad was a small business owner. During the Great Recession, you know what I was doing? I was leading my church to build a community center, where among other things we had a financial literacy center that taught people how to repair their credit, create a 700 credit score community, how to create a business, how to buy a home, how to participate in our free enterprise system. Kelly Loeffler, on the other hand, was teaching the big banks how to hide their investments offshore in the Cayman Islands. This is how she spent her career before she went to the Senate. This is what she’s been focused on now that she’s in the Senate. She was only there three weeks, I’m not sure she was fully unpacked, when she started dumping millions of dollars of stock, trying to protect herself. And she purchased that seat. It’s done well for her. The issue is that the people who sold it to her don’t own it, and the people of Georgia are coming back to get their seat.
Russ Spencer: (18:16)
Senator, you have 30 seconds.
Kelly Loeffler: (18:18)
Well, predictably, you’ve just heard more lies from radical liberal Raphael Warnock, who wants to distract from his own words, calling police officers gangsters, thugs, bullies, and a threat to our children, saying that you can’t serve God in the military, for his attacks on Israel. You know, what I’m focused on is making sure that we continue to deliver relief. I’ve already delivered relief for 174,000 small businesses, $7 billion for hospitals. And when the government didn’t move quickly enough, I purchased PPE out of my own funds, drove it to hospitals. I donated to hospitals, and I donate my salary to charities across Georgia. I’m here working for Georgia.
Russ Spencer: (18:59)
Reverend Warnock, your turn to ask a second question of the Senator.
Raphael Warnock: (19:03)
Yeah, my question is actually pretty simple. Yes or no, Senator Loeffler, did Donald Trump lose a recent presidential election?
Kelly Loeffler: (19:15)
You know, President Trump has every right to use every legal recourse available. In our own state, we’ve seen time and again that we have investigations that need to be completed. In fact, we’ve run two audits, and those audits discovered thousands of ballots across several counties here in Georgia that were not counted. I’ve called for a signature audit. We need to hold folks accountable involved in these investigations to make sure that they move more quickly, because everything’s at stake on January 5th for the future of our country.
Kelly Loeffler: (19:48)
If the Democrats win, they will defund the police. They’ll keep our country locked down. They want more lockdowns. They’ll raise your taxes in the middle of a pandemic, and they’ll continue to keep the borders open and support taxpayer funding for illegal immigrant healthcare. And they’ll defund our military by 25%. My opponent, radical liberal Raphael Warnock, would be a rubber stamp for Chuck Schumer, because he’s bought and paid for by tens of millions of dollars from out of state, dark liberal money from Chuck Schumer.
Russ Spencer: (20:21)
Reverend Warnock, 30 seconds.
Raphael Warnock: (20:23)
You know, I’ve been moving all across this state, especially going to rural areas, and when I go to these small towns, they’re surprised that I’m there. I’m surprised that they’re surprised. They haven’t seen a US senator. And they’re wondering why their hospitals are closing, why Kelly Loeffler doesn’t think it’s a good idea to make sure that they have healthcare in the middle of a pandemic. We refused to expand Medicaid in this state. Nine of our hospitals are closing, have closed. And they’re wondering who in Washington is looking out for them.
Russ Spencer: (20:58)
Senator Loeffler, you get the final question in this.
Kelly Loeffler: (21:01)
Reverend Warnock, you were arrested for obstructing police in the arrests in the child abuse investigation. Can you tell me the nature of this child abuse? Why were the police called? What was your knowledge or involvement in this incident?
Raphael Warnock: (21:19)
Sure. Here are the facts, and Kelly Loeffler actually knows them. I was working and trying to make sure that young people who were being questioned by law enforcement had the benefit of counsel, a lawyer, or a parent. And the law enforcement officers actually later thanked me for my cooperation and for helping them. She knows this, but the question is, why is she doing this? It is because she has made a calculation that after being in the Senate for 10 months, she does not have a case to be made for why the people of Georgia should keep her there.
Raphael Warnock: (22:02)
She has been focused on the same thing she’s focused on her whole life, herself. During the recession, she was helping billionaires like her hide their money in the Cayman Islands. She dumped millions of dollars of stock, played it down, and then when she could help ordinary people, she didn’t do it. And the people of Georgia haven’t seen relief for months. And so she’s spending her millions of dollars focused on me, because she has no case to make for herself. I think that’s sad, but that’s no reason for her to keep a Senate seat.
Russ Spencer: (22:34)
You have a rebuttal.
Kelly Loeffler: (22:36)
You’ve just heard radical liberal Raphael Warnock lie again, and not answer a question, an important question that Georgians deserve to have the answer to. Unfortunately, this is consistent with his track record of disrespecting law enforcement. Anyone in Georgia can read the police report as to what happened in this child abuse investigation at his church camp. You know, Georgians deserve answers, but they also deserve someone who respects our men and women of law enforcement. You know, he did call police officers gangsters and thugs. He said that we should empty the prisons and end cash bail. He won’t keep our communities safe. That’s what I’m fighting for.
Russ Spencer: (23:13)
Senator, thank you. That does conclude our second round. Again, if you’re just joining us, this is the runoff debate between candidates for the US Senate seat to fill the Georgia seat that’s currently held by Senator Loeffler. We turn back now to the panel to ask questions until we run out of time. As moderator, actually, I’m going to take the privilege of asking a question to the two of you to start this round. Reverend, I’ll begin with you. I’m interested in the number that you’re comfortable with when it comes to coronavirus relief. Senate Majority Leader McConnell seems to favor something like $500 billion. The moderates are talking about $908. Two months ago, the White House suggested $1.8 trillion, and the Democrats wanted more. How much is required by this moment?
Raphael Warnock: (23:53)
Well, the problem is, for months we haven’t seen any relief, and we can talk about the numbers. That would be an important part of the conversation. But when we saw relief, we saw the Shake Shacks of the world and Ruth’s Chris and the LA Lakers at the front of the line and small businesses at the back of the line. Our frontline workers, our teachers, our police officers, our health professionals need PPE. Our workers need relief, and we need to begin even now, I think, thinking beyond how we survive this pandemic and begin to think about how we survive on the other end of the pandemic.
Raphael Warnock: (24:38)
While we’re providing relief, I think it’s time for us to start thinking about an infrastructure program here in this country that will repair our roads and our bridges, begin to build green energy and green energy jobs, provide jobs with a livable wage, and position our economy to lead into the future.
Russ Spencer: (24:58)
Can you give me a number?
Raphael Warnock: (25:00)
Look, I think that we should at least make sure that whatever we do, workers are at the center of that relief.
Russ Spencer: (25:11)
All right. Senator Loeffler, you’re in a position to vote on this very soon, perhaps. Janet Yellen has said the country can afford to borrow this money now to get people through this crisis until we’re all vaccinated, and that if we don’t spend it now, it’s going to cost us more in terms of job destruction. Do you agree with that, and what would your number be? What could you live with?
Kelly Loeffler: (25:30)
Well, I was pleased to support all the relief packages this spring when we were addressing this virus. Over $3 trillion of relief to Americans, $47 billion that I helped bring right here to Georgia, including $7 billion for hospitals, 174,000 small businesses that I brought $15 billion in PPP funds to, saved 1.5 million jobs. And in fact, I voted twice on the Senate floor in recent months to support a package that Democrats have blocked, that Nancy Pelosi has now confirmed that it was playing politics with Americans’ lives and livelihoods.
Kelly Loeffler: (26:06)
She’s held up targeted relief that would have gone to hospitals, to schools, to families, to small businesses. That’s what I’ve been fighting for. That’s what the Democrats are holding up. And my opponent, radical liberal Raphael Warnock, would be a rubber stamp for Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as they try to use this pandemic to put the costs on the back of hardworking Georgians in the form of high taxes, to fundamentally change America. And I’m not going to stand by and let that happen. I’m going to make sure that we serve our families and our small businesses right here in Georgia.
Russ Spencer: (26:42)
Thank you. Lisa, it’s your turn to ask a question.
Lisa Rayam: (26:46)
Senator Loeffler, you have called yourself the most conservative candidate in the race. You’re also the richest US senator, with an estimated net worth of more than a half billion dollars. How will you use your wealth and your privilege to improve the life of the average Georgian, the one who makes minimum wage, and more specifically, minorities who feel you have not made an attempt to meet them where they are?
Kelly Loeffler: (27:08)
Well, first of all, I have been blessed to live the American dream, and that’s what I’m fighting for every single day in Washington, because I was born and raised on a farm. I grew up working in the fields. I started filling out a time card when I was 11. I waitressed my way through high school and college, and I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I know what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. I’ve done it. And I also know I’m blessed to live the American dream, and that’s why I’m fighting to protect it.
Kelly Loeffler: (27:36)
That’s why conservative values matter, to uphold the Constitution. Our freedoms are under attack in this country, religious freedom, the right to life, the Second Amendment. And that’s what helps create opportunity for all Georgians to live freely. But my opponent, radical liberal Raphael Warnock, is a socialist. He supports policies that would grow our government, bankrupt hardworking families with high taxes. The cost of the Green New Deal on every Georgian family would be $75,000, and taxes would go up $2,000 per family. That’s why I’m focused on helping every single Georgian succeed.
Lisa Rayam: (28:14)
Have you reached out to minority communities to hear their issues and what they’re thinking and what they’re feeling?
Kelly Loeffler: (28:20)
Absolutely. I have built my career based on bringing folks together to lift everyone up. That’s what I’ve done from day one. In fact, I just introduced my prosperity plan that would bring much needed capital, access to capital to small businesses and minority communities, because our country has failed in that area. That’s one way we can help. We can also make sure that we protect school choice. The Democrats would overturn school choice, trapping children, their destiny for education, within their ZIP Code. I’m fighting to make sure that we fund school choice and support kids to live their dream to have that education. But I’m also making sure we keep taxes low. The jobs act that that Raphael Warnock would overturn would raise taxes on single moms making $39,000 with two kids. Their taxes would go up 20%. That’s not a way to help hardworking families here in Georgia succeed.
Russ Spencer: (29:23)
Greg Bluestein, your turn to ask a question.
Greg Bluestein: (29:25)
Yeah, and this next question is for both candidates. We’ll start with Reverend. Do you plan to accept a coronavirus vaccine when public health experts declare it to be safe? And if so, how do you plan to persuade the public to take it?
Raphael Warnock: (29:37)
Absolutely. When our health professionals tell us that we have a vaccine that works and is effective and safe, I will take it. I will encourage the folks who listen to me, people who are in my church and in the community, to take it. But also I will try to work hard as a senator to make sure that communities that are so often marginalized don’t find themselves at the back of the line again, that they have access.
Raphael Warnock: (30:03)
… Don’t find themselves at the back of the line again, that they have access to the vaccine, so often they find themselves at the back of the line. And I’ve spent my life standing up fighting for ordinary people. Kelly Loeffler is trying to misrepresent me because she knows that she has spent the first 10 months, all 10 months of her tenure thinking about herself. She’s the unelected Senator of Georgia. She was appointed, the people of Georgia have been disappointed and they’re looking for somebody who will stand up for ordinary people. I’ve spent my life doing that as a citizen and I’ll do it as a U.S. Senator.
Russ Spencer: (30:41)
You have 30 seconds to respond to that before Greg asks his question of you.
Kelly Loeffler: (30:46)
I have spent every single day working for Georgians. I’m 100% about Georgia, that was my calling to public service. I was blessed to live the American dream and I want Georgians to live theirs. I was a job creator right here in Georgia. I’m the only person in this race that knows how to help Georgians. I’ve created jobs, he’s never created a job in his life but yet he’s advocated for high taxes that will crush small businesses and families seeking that opportunity. He will take away school choice for kids who want to have that leg-up and he would play politics just as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have done, holding up relief for political reasons and I think that’s completely wrong.
Russ Spencer: (31:27)
Greg Bluestein: (31:27)
You had a reminder of the question, do you plan to accept the coronavirus vaccine if public health experts say it’s safe and if so how do you intend to persuade the public to take it?
Kelly Loeffler: (31:36)
Absolutely. I was with Vice President Pence on Friday at the CDC. I could not be more proud of what we’ve done this year to deliver relief but also get cures, vaccines and therapies that are effective. And so I’m going to encourage my fellow Georgians to stay safe, to get that vaccine, and we have a great plan to prioritize those communities who need it most and we will make sure that that’s carried out. But my opponent will continue to play politics with the pandemic, telling lies and trying to achieve political objectives that would try to radically change our country at a moment of a pandemic.
Kelly Loeffler: (32:13)
I’m going to continue to fight for every single Georgian to have the freedoms and the opportunities that they deserve and not be crushed by big government that would have government-mandated healthcare, that will provide free healthcare for illegal immigrants, that would raise their taxes to pay for government healthcare and that would bankrupt Medicare. I’m making sure that Georgians have the resources they need while we keep our taxes and our government low and small.
Russ Spencer: (32:39)
Lisa, it’s your turn to ask a question.
Lisa Rayam: (32:41)
Dr. Warnock, Katina Stravalucas is an Atlanta business owner who had to close her doors because she was unable to pay thousands in back rent due to the pandemic. President-elect Joe Biden considers it a top priority to get a generous stimulus package through Congress and you said you support that. But if you were to speak to Katina, what would you ensure her that you would do in Washington to help her and other business owners get the help that they need?
Raphael Warnock: (33:08)
Well, my dad was a small business owner and so I understand the struggle that small business owners have and I spent time in my church creating a financial literacy center that helps people to get started. And so I think a good sign of what someone will do in office is what they were doing before they ever went into office. And I’ve spent my whole career standing up ordinary people trying to, in fact, we had a job center in my church contrary to what Senator Loeffler is trying to suggest and I have stood up for ordinary workers time and time again.
Raphael Warnock: (33:49)
During this pandemic we call people essential workers, we ought to pay them an essential wage and we ought to provide small business owners like her the assistance and the support that they need. Kelly Loeffler is out of touch. She’s thinking about people who are like her, and I’m okay with the fact that she wants to make money, I just think you shouldn’t use the people’s seat to enrich yourself. You ought to use the people seat to represent the people.
Kelly Loeffler: (34:19)
I’d like to respond.
Russ Spencer: (34:20)
Kelly Loeffler: (34:22)
Look, these are more lies from radical liberal Raphael Warnock, someone that has invited Fidel Castro, a murderous dictator into his own church, someone that has celebrated anti-American anti-Semite Jeremiah Wright. He has also said that police officers are gangsters and thugs and refused to apologize for it. He said that you can’t serve God and the military. He has actually made sure that we know who he is in his own words, those aren’t my words. I’m working hard to serve Georgians, I’ve served thousands of Georgians and I’m so proud to represent this state and help Georgians through this challenging time.
Russ Spencer: (34:59)
Reverend, as I understand you were a young men in that church in New York, would you like to respond to the suggestion you invited him?
Raphael Warnock: (35:05)
Well, there’s a lot at stake right now in the middle of this pandemic and it’s too bad that she’s engaged in the politics of distraction and division. I never met him, I never invited him, he has nothing to do with me. If you want to know who informs me and my sense of how we engage as people in the economic system you need look no further than Matthew 25, I’m a Matthew 25 Christian, that’s what I am. I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was sick and you visited me. Love your neighbor, and for me that means you don’t get rid of your neighbors healthcare particularly in the middle of a pandemic.
Russ Spencer: (35:46)
Kelly Loeffler: (35:47)
May I respond?
Russ Spencer: (35:48)
Kelly Loeffler: (35:49)
Look, I’m not going to be lectured by someone that uses the Bible to justify abortion, to attack our men and women in the military. What’s happening here is someone who will not own up to their own record of division. He has called on Americans to repent for their worship of whiteness, that’s divisive, that’s hurtful. He celebrated Jeremiah Wright anti-Semite, he’s actually called Israel and apartheid state. That is wrong for America and I’m going to continue to make sure Georgians understand that that is him in his own words.
Russ Spencer: (36:25)
Reverend, please respond to the abortion issue in particular.
Raphael Warnock: (36:28)
Well, listen, I have a profound reverence for life and an abiding respect for choice. The question is whose decision is it? And I happen to think that a patient’s room is too small a place for a woman, her doctor, and the U.S. government, I think that’s too many people in the room. But those who are concerned about life, and I certainly am, ought to be focused on the incredibly high rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality in our country when compared to other developed nations, that’s something that government can work on and I’ve been working on it in my entire career.
Russ Spencer: (37:10)
Greg Bluestein: (37:11)
Senator, President Trump has attacked your closest political ally Governor Kemp as hapless. He said he was ashamed to support him, he even invited one of your former rivals to run against him in 2022. Was the president wrong to say that about the governor and are you concerned his comments could alienate some Republicans in Georgia ahead of the runoffs?
Kelly Loeffler: (37:30)
Well, the president has the right to pursue every legal recourse to make sure that this was a free and fair election in Georgia and we know that these audits have turned up thousands of votes that were initially uncounted and I’ve called for a signature audit. And the buck stops with the secretary of state. He has to run an election that Georgians trust because everything’s at stake on January 5th, the future of the country.
Kelly Loeffler: (37:54)
We can take the path of supporting the American dream of standing the economy back up and getting through this virus together, or we can take the path of socialism that radical liberal Raphael Warnock wants to bring to our country, increasing our taxes, taking away the private insurance that you get at your jobs and replacing it with government-run healthcare, turning your doctor’s office into the DMV. He would open our borders, grant amnesty, give free healthcare to illegal immigrants, none of that will help us solve this pandemic and get the economy back on its feet and get kids back in school. And I’m not going to stand by and be lectured by someone that has not done anything for Americans during this pandemic.
Greg Bluestein: (38:33)
Well, was the president wrong when he called those governor’s remarks?
Kelly Loeffler: (38:36)
Look, I appreciate the president’s support of me and I appreciate the governor’s support of me. They both understand what’s at stake in this election, that’s why they’re encouraging Georgians to get out and vote for David Purdue and myself because we’re fighting for Georgians every single day. We’re using our private sector experience to make sure that Georgians get back to work and school and church while the Democrats play politics, hold up relief and try to keep our country locked down, that’s just wrong.
Russ Spencer: (39:06)
Lisa Rayam: (39:07)
Senator Loeffler expounding on that last question, again President Trump criticized your governor, Governor Brian Kemp. Governor Kemp appointed you to the Senate. You’ve criticized the election process as well, so tonight can you tell us where your loyalty lies as you vie to represent the State of Georgia, is it with Governor Kemp or President Trump?
Kelly Loeffler: (39:31)
Lisa, my loyalties are with Georgia. I had a calling to public service to serve the people of Georgia. Look, I have lived the American dream, I want to make sure every Georgian can do that. From going from working on a farm, from waitressing, being the first in my family to graduate from college I know that free enterprise is the way to lift everyone up. Not socialism, not high taxes, not big government, not open borders, not the chaos of defunding the police that the left wants, not the lockdowns. I’m making sure that Georgians know what’s at stake on January 5th. Our way of life right here in Georgia will radically change. As promised by Chuck Schumer now we take Georgia, then we change America. That’s my number one focus, making sure that Georgians know what’s at stake. I have served Georgians every single day, it’s been my honor and I’m going to continue to do that.
Russ Spencer: (40:28)
Well, if everything is at stake on January 5th I would presume that President Trump has lost, is that what you’re saying?
Kelly Loeffler: (40:34)
What’s at stake is the Senate majority. This will determine who brings bills to the Senate floor. And under the Republican Senate we’ve been able to deliver $3 trillion of relief to hardworking Americans hard hit by this pandemic, to the frontline workers, to hospitals, to schools, we have to continue to make sure that we open up our economy. The Democrats want to keep this locked down, they want to radically change our country and their agent of change is radical liberal Raphael Warnock, someone that has said to re-imagine police, that is endorsed by organizations whose number one goal is to defund the police. We know the direction the country would take and we’re going to continue to make sure that Georgians understand that our very way of life here in Georgia and across the country is under attack by the left.
Russ Spencer: (41:23)
Well, not to belabor the point but all those things that you’re warning about would not be happening presumably with President Trump as president. It almost sounds as though you’re conceding that that part of it has been settled and now it’s important for the Republicans to keep the majority in the Senate to have a divided government.
Kelly Loeffler: (41:41)
Well, I saw firsthand that the Senate is the shock absorber in this country, and I saw that firsthand when I got to Washington and the impeachment trial started. I saw the Russia hoax and how that distracted us from addressing this virus. The Democrats have played nothing but politics since day one. They’ve never accepted that President Trump was president. They were distracted from serving Americans, they were distracted during the pandemic and now they’ve used the pandemic to try to fundamentally change this country and put the cost of big government on the back of hardworking Georgians.
Kelly Loeffler: (42:16)
That’s why I’m fighting to make sure that the Republican majority is retained in the Senate because we are the shock absorber for common sense policies that bring Americans together, that lift everyone up, that provides for great educational choices for kids, that stops the radical agenda of the abortion on demand that Democrats want, that attacks our Second Amendment rights. They want to take away our guns, they want to tax guns and they want to fundamentally change America and radical liberal Raphael Warnock is their agent of change.
Russ Spencer: (42:50)
Greg Bluestein, time for your question.
Greg Bluestein: (42:52)
Yeah, Reverend Warnock, if Democrats do win control of the U.S. Senate there’ll be pressure to increase the size of the U.S. Supreme Court. Would you support adding more justices to the Supreme Court to offset President Trump’s recent appointments, and do you think there needs to be term limits for justices on the bench?
Raphael Warnock: (43:08)
I want to point out that Kelly Loeffler actually voted to defund the police. She voted against the COPS program, she was one of only 10 United States senators who did. I don’t think we should defund the police but we certainly do need criminal justice reform. We need to make sure that we have an independent review process when civilians die at the hands of police, we need to make sure that police officers and departments that have a pattern of misconduct are held accountable. We can do that and celebrate police at the same time.
Raphael Warnock: (43:48)
And as I move all across the state, Greg, people aren’t asking me about the courts and whether we should expand the courts. I know that’s an interesting question for people inside the beltway to discuss, but they’re wondering when in the world are they going to get some COVID-19 relief? They haven’t gotten any from Kelly Loeffler in months, and when she had a chance to stand up for ordinary people she thought $600 was too much. Meanwhile, she was busy dumping millions of dollars of stock profiting from a pandemic. Who does that?
Russ Spencer: (44:20)
Can I respond please?
Greg Bluestein: (44:21)
But it will impact people on the ground, so I am wondering if you can answer the question, do you support expanding the Supreme Court?
Raphael Warnock: (44:28)
I’m really not focused on it and I think that too often the politics in Washington has been about the politicians. I’m a pastor and so when I think about these issues I think about the people that I’ve had to stand with in the critical care units while their loved one was dying or between life and death. And not only are they concerned about the sickness they’re wondering how in the world are they going to pay for it? If Kelly Loeffler has her away, 1.8 million Georgians with preexisting conditions, that means people with hypertension, people with…
Raphael Warnock: (45:03)
With pre-existing conditions, that means people with hypertension, people who have diabetes, folks who’ve had a stroke, cancer. People who are recovering from COVID would not be able to get health care. I think that’s morally wrong, and it’s my faith that actually informs that. She can’t explain why she wants to take away people’s health care. She knows that that junk health care plan that she rolled out, has a loophole in it big enough to drive a Mack truck through. She can’t explain that and so she’s trying to misrepresent my record. But the people of Georgia understand, they understand the truth.
Russ Spencer: (45:40)
Senator, 30 seconds, please.
Kelly Loeffler: (45:41)
Yes. Look, you’ve just heard radical liberal Raphael Warnock lie about my record. I’ve never voted to defund the police. In fact, I’ve voted to support more funding, that the Democrats, of course, blocked. But he also is distracting from the fact that he would pack the Supreme Court, that’s outrageous. Justice Ginsburg herself said, “Nine justices is the right number.” He would pack the court with radical justices that would legislate from the bench to fundamentally override the Constitution and our laws in this country, and Georgians need to know that is wrong for Georgia and our country.
Russ Spencer: (46:20)
Would you like 30 seconds to respond?
Raphael Warnock: (46:22)
Well, I believe in the Constitution. This is the greatest system on the planet and our country is the only country where my story is even possible. I believe in our norms, I believe in the separation of powers, and I believe in the non-violent, unchaotic transition of power. Kelly Loeffler ought to stand with the people of Georgia. The four greatest words ever spoken of democracy are, “The people have spoken.” The people have spoken on the Presidential Election and they’re waiting on their Senator to be focused on them, not the person in the White House.
Russ Spencer: (47:01)
Lisa [Rem 00:47:01] .
Lisa Rayam: (47:02)
Senator Loeffler, given all the police violence we’ve seen against African-Americans consider this, Courtney Owens of Atlanta is worried about her son, her father, and her husband, all African-Americans. She fears for their lives daily. You’ve called the Black Lives Matter movement fascist, you’ve alienated members of your own basketball team by talking about that stance, or taking that stance rather. Is that still your view tonight after seeing and hearing how it hits home with so many people personally, and what conversation would you sit down and have with Courtney Owens?
Kelly Loeffler: (47:38)
Well, the life of every African-American is important and there is no place for racism in this country, but there are organizations whose number one goal is to defund the police, and we know that that hurts minority communities more than anyone. And we have to stand with our men and women of law enforcement, and I will always do that. That’s a distraction from the fact that my opponent does not stand with police officers. He’s endorsed by organizations whose number one goal is to defund the police. He’s called police officers gangsters, thugs, bullies, a threat to our children. He’s called for our prisons to be opened up and emptied out. He’s called for the abolishment of the cash bail system. Look, he doesn’t care about safety and security in any community, and I’m fighting to make sure that we have the resources to keep our communities safe and our police departments well-funded and well-trained.
Russ Spencer: (48:38)
Senator, thank you. Would you like to respond to-
Raphael Warnock: (48:40)
Sure, if I may.
Russ Spencer: (48:41)
Particularly about opening up the jails.
Raphael Warnock: (48:44)
Well, listen. First of all, the land of the free is the mass incarceration capital of the world, we warehouse 25% of the world’s prisoners. And people on both sides of the aisle know that our current criminal justice system needs reform. And we saw that this summer, a multi-racial coalition of conscience, pouring out into American streets after the tragic deaths of George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. And what did Kelly Loeffler do?
Raphael Warnock: (49:20)
She used her enormous privilege and power as a United States Senator to pick a fight with the black women on her team who know what it’s like to grow up in a community where you have to have two talks with your children, one about the birds and the bees, the birds and the bees, and the other about what happens if you’re pulled over by police officers. To acknowledge that is not to condemn police officers in general. I’ve worked with police across the years. I’ve been invited to speak at their memorial services when they’ve lost their lives in the line of duty. And she says she is against racism and that racism has no place, but she welcomed the support of a QAnon conspiracy theorist, and she sat down with a white supremacist for an interview. I don’t think she can explain that.
Kelly Loeffler: (50:16)
May I respond?
Russ Spencer: (50:17)
Let me give you a chance to respond to that and then we’ll have one last question before we get to closing statements, please.
Kelly Loeffler: (50:23)
Well, that’s incredibly sad, these comments that he’s made. First of all, there’s not a racist bone in my body, I have worked to bring communities together my entire life. But this is really terrible, coming from someone who has divided people continually. He’s called on Americans to repent for their worship of whiteness. He’s called Israel an apartheid state and said that we should end military assistance. He’s compared Israelis defending themselves against Palestinians, he’s compared them to birds of prey, and he’s celebrated Jeremiah Wright, an anti-American, anti-Semite. That’s divisive.
Russ Spencer: (51:02)
Greg Bluestein, one last question.
Greg Bluestein: (51:03)
Senator, should members of Congress be barred from trading stocks?
Kelly Loeffler: (51:10)
Look, what’s at stake here in this election is the American Dream, that’s what’s under attack. When they attack me for a lie, a left-wing media lie, conspired with the Democrats by… This is an attack on every single Georgian who gets up every day to work hard, to provide a better life for their family, who wants to live the American Dream. It’s a distraction from the real issues, not the conspiracies in this election. What’s at stake is the future of our country, our freedoms to live the American Dream, to not be taxed into bankruptcy, to not have to go onto government health care, government-run health care. They want to take away the health care that 180 million Americans rely on through their work. That’s why I’ve introduced a health care plan to make it more affordable, not government-run health care that would bankrupt those that rely on Medicare. And I’m going to continue to fight to keep our country free, to keep our borders secure, and make sure that our communities are safe and secure.
Russ Spencer: (52:15)
Reverend, you have an opportunity to respond.
Raphael Warnock: (52:18)
Well, the Senator can’t explain why the people of Georgia should send her back to the Senate. She’s continued to misrepresent my record, she’s lied, not only on me, but on Jesus. Everybody’s clear about what that passage is about in Matthew. You can’t serve two masters and she should have listened to the lesson. Maybe she wouldn’t be so focused on herself, she’d be thinking about the people she’s supposed to represent. I intend to center the concerns of the ordinary people that I’ve been running into all across this state, particularly in rural Georgia.
Russ Spencer: (53:02)
Reverend, thank you.
Kelly Loeffler: (53:03)
I’d like to respond.
Russ Spencer: (53:04)
We’re out of time. I apologize, but you’re going to have a chance for a closing statement here in a moment. That is all the time we have for questions. The candidates now have 60 seconds for a closing statement. Senator Loeffler, you get to go first.
Kelly Loeffler: (53:15)
Well, thank you to everyone who tuned in to this important debate. You can see what’s at stake. There are two visions for our country, mine, the American dream, my opponent, socialism. This is what’s on the ballot January 5th, the American Dream. I was born and raised on a farm, I grew up working in the fields, I built my career, I became a job creator right here in Georgia, and I have been blessed to live the American Dream. But Chuck Schumer said it best, “Now we take Georgia, then we change America.” They would increase our taxes, open our borders, socialize our health care, and my opponent, radical, liberal Raphael Warnock is his agent of change, someone that has falsely used the Bible to attack our military. The Bible never said that we serve, that you can’t serve God and in the military. He’s attacked our police officers, he wants to fundamentally change America into a socialist country. Well, I’m not going to let that happen. I’m working hard for every single Georgian. I’m Kelly Loeffler, I’m asking for your vote on January 5th. Thank you and may God bless America.
Russ Spencer: (54:19)
Thank you, Senator. Reverend Warnock, your closing statement.
Raphael Warnock: (54:22)
Thank you so much and thanks to everybody who tuned in tonight, I’m Raphael Warnock. I’m one of 12 children in my family and I’m number 11, the first college graduate. Listen, these are dark and difficult times and amidst the thick fog of this pandemic and the economic turndown, even during this season of joy, it’s hard for people to find joy. I think about my dad in a moment like this, God bless his memory. He used to wake me up every morning at dawn and said, “Get ready, get dressed, put your shoes on.” It was dawn, so it was morning, but it was still dark. It’s dark right now, but morning is on the way. It’s our job Georgia, to put our shoes on and get ready, because there are those who are engaged in the politics of division. They have no vision, so they engage in division. Tomorrow is the last day to register. Tell everybody you know to make a vote plan because health care is on the ballot, workers are on the ballot, voting rights is on the ballot, criminal justice reform is on the ballot. And if you give me the honor of representing you in the U.S. Senate-
Russ Spencer: (55:33)
We have to go, sir.
Raphael Warnock: (55:33)
I’ll be thinking about Georgia every single day. Thank you so much.
Russ Spencer: (55:35)
Thank you very much, Reverend and Senator. Before we conclude this debate, everyone involved in tonight’s production sends their condolences to the Loeffler campaign and to the family of staff member Harrison Deal, who was killed in a car accident on Friday. Our thoughts are with the family, they’re with you. We’re very, very sorry. We’d like to remind voters that Election Day is Tuesday, January 5th. Absentee voting has already begun in Georgia and early voting in Georgia begins December 14th. Thanks to the candidates and to the panel for participating in this debate, well done. Thanks to the Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting for arranging this debate. I’m Russ Spencer with Fox 5 in Atlanta. Thank you for joining us for the Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk-Young…