David Perdue, the wealthy businessman and establishment favorite for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, denigrated those who do not have college degrees in remarks that will make it easier for Democrats and the mainstream press to frame the GOP as the party of the privileged and elite.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained a video from January in which Perdue blasts opponent and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who has been endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for not having a college degree. Perdue says that makes her unqualified to be in the U.S. Senate.
“I mean, there’s a high school graduate in this race, OK? I’m sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex,” Perdue disparagingly said in January. “There’s only one candidate in this race that’s ever lived outside the United States. How can you bring value to a debate about the economy unless you have any understanding about the free enterprise system and how — what it takes to compete in the global economy?”
As the Journal-Constitution notes, “Handel left a broken home at 17, finished high school and went to work but never finished college.” She, like 72.2 percent of Georgians over the age of 25, does not have a college degree. According to Census figures, “only 27.8 percent of Georgians over age 25 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 84.4 percent have a high school diploma.” As National Journal notes, “for the 72.2 percent of Georgians without that college degree, Perdue’s boast may tell them they’re not smart enough for higher office.” In addition, according to the Journal-Constitution, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland from Georgia do not have college degrees.
“It is disappointing that David would demean someone who–by no fault of her own–moved out of an abusive home at age 17, and with her own hard work and determination, is the embodiment of the American Dream,” Handel campaign manager Corry Bliss said.
Karen is an example of how, with great perseverance and sheer will, the circumstances under which you grow up do not dictate your ability to succeed. While David boasts about all the time he spent living in Europe and Asia, and all of the millions of dollars he intends to spend on this race, this election is about who conservatives can relate to and trust to get results in the United States Senate.
Six Republicans are running to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and the nominee will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in the fall.
Julianne Thompson, Co-Founder of the Capitol Coalition of Conservative Leaders and Co-Chairman of the Atlanta Tea Party, said she was “appalled” at Perdue’s comments and for what “he obviously considers to be a lack of pedigree to hold public office.”
“One of the most important things we look for in a leader is that person’s ability to identify with the citizens they intend to govern,” she said. “Mr. Perdue should feel thankful he never had to suffer abuse as a child, so bad that he would have had to leave home at 17, like Mrs. Handel.”
Thompson said that Perdue should also feel thankful that, “he could afford a college education and become a multimillionaire, and not have to spend his time working multiple jobs just to make ends meet.”
But it seems he can’t understand those things, because he is completely out of touch with ordinary Georgians–Georgians who do work those multiple shifts, who have overcome abusive childhoods, who could not afford a college education, but were able to rise above insurmountable odds and achieve the same success as David Perdue. I assume Mr. Perdue is a person of faith, so I am sure he is familiar with the Book of Samuel–and if not, I suggest he read it.
Thompson noted that Samuel, “tells what a mighty God and a great nation can do with a humble person who has a servant’s heart, a person underestimated by family, a person with no formal training, but yet a person who took a small stone, slayed an arrogant giant, and went on to become King.”
A quarter of the primary electorate is currently undecided, and the other candidates include Reps. Jack Kingston, Phil Gingrey, and Paul Broun. Currently, Handel gets about 10% of the vote, and she trails the frontrunner, Perdue, by 11 percentage points in the latest polling in the crowded field for the May 20 primary. But those polls were taken before Palin, whose endorsement has the most impact in GOP primaries, endorsed Handel. The Handel campaign has raised more than $100,000 since Palin’s endorsement, and Palin campaigned for Handel on Thursday, saying Perdue’s character should be questioned with remarks like that.