ATLANTA — Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff said he agreed to participate in six debates with Republican Sen. David Perdue, including one with 11Alive News. However, Perdue's camp tells us he will not debate Ossoff ahead of the January runoff.
In a statement, Ossoff said Perdue was "too much of a coward to defend his record in a public debate." A Perdue spokesman said there was no need for another debate because Ossoff "lied repeatedly" in previous meetings.
"If Senator Perdue doesn’t want to answer questions, that’s fine, he just shouldn't run for re-election to the U.S. Senate,” Ossoff said. “I offer the Senator any or all of these six debates if he has the self-confidence to debate in public.”
Perdue's camp said the runoff is just an extension of the Nov. 3 General Election where Perdue had a "commanding first place win, outpacing Ossoff by over 85,000 votes."
"He refused to talk about the issues and could not defend his radical socialist agenda," the Perdue campaign said in a statement. "If Ossoff wants to keep lying to Georgians on TV, he will have to use his out-of-state money to pay for it. We’re going to take our message about what’s at stake if Democrats have total control of Congress directly to the people."
The debates Ossoff agreed on were: WXIA (NBC/11Alive), WMAZ (CBS Macon), WABE (NPR Atlanta); WSB-TV (ABC Atlanta); The Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting; WTOC (CBS Savannah and its Gray TV affiliates statewide); WJBF (ABC Augusta and its Nexstar affiliates statewide); CNN.
The Atlanta Press Club told the Associated Press that an empty podium will represent the senator at the Dec. 6 debate. In Georgia's other runoff, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler's campaign has yet to commit to debating Democrat Raphael Warnock.
The January 5 runoff is expected to have smaller turnout than the November 3 election. Campaigns are chasing voters they know have already shown a willingness to vote for their candidates. A new round of debates would have little impact, said GOP strategist Brian Robinson. "This is not an issue that voters vote on. They do not punish you for not being in a debate," Robinson said. "Viewership for these debates – if they had one -- it would not be enough people to impact the outcome of this election."
Ossoff said he will continue to encourage Perdue to take his pick from the list of options or "meet the moment" and accept all six.
The runoff for the Senate race is on Jan. 5, 2021.