On Thursday, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said it was a sad day in Republican politics when a slight frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination in Georgia, David Perdue, denigrates another candidate in the race for not having a college degree.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported, establishment businessman David Perdue was caught on tape mocking Karen Handel, the former Georgia Secretary of State whom Palin has endorsed for U.S. Senate, for not having a college degree.
“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 said at an event 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?”
“What Karen has gone through and overcome is what we need exemplified and emulated in this country,” Palin said, emphasizing that Handel decided not to be a victim when she left an abusive household at the age of 17 and “did something about it” by pulling herself up by her bootstraps with perseverance and tenacity.
Palin said Handel has walked the walk for her values by leaving a job when it would require her to go against her pro-life principles and for fiscal responsibility by fulfilling promises after getting elected by cutting bloated budgets.
Palin said Handel understands “the real world and the challenges that everyone faces” and noted that establishment figures also mocked Ronald Reagan for being not having an elite education.
“Thank God he wasn’t an elitist,” Palin said. “Look at what he did for the country.”
Handel said that though “some in this race think the problems in Washington are a little too complex for a gal like me, I’m here to tell you that solving the problems in Washington is going to take guts and resolve.”
“I walk in the shoes of average Georgians,” she said at the event.
According to Census figures, Handel does, as “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, as the Journal-Constitution notes, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland from Georgia do not have college degrees.
Handel’s campaign manager Corry Bliss told Breitbart News that “Perdue’s demeaning comments play right into Michelle Nunn and the Democrats’ favorite subjects: the War on Women and income inequality.” And his comments come right as GOP Senate candidates have been picking up some momentum, as Breitbart News noted, after Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), who is the Democrat running for Senate in Iowa, was caught denigrating Iowa’s farmers and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) as a just a farmer who doesn’t have a law degree.”
“Perdue’s comments are demeaning to every single hardworking Georgian who is not a multimillionaire living in a gated community like he does,” Bliss told Breitbart News. “The stakes are too high in this election to nominate a candidate who is going to say or do things that make him an easy target for the liberal media.”
Bliss said after Handel got her high school degree, she embodied the American Dream by going into the workforce, and “her hard work and determination were recognized, giving her opportunities to grow professionally.”
“Karen is an example of how, with great perseverance, common sense, and great resolve, the circumstances under which you grow up do not dictate your ability to succeed,” he said.
Republicans have lost races even when the electorate has agreed with them on the issues because of comments that voters felt were demeaning, and the Cook Political Report recently moved the Georgia Senate race to a toss-up from “lean Republican” after candidates like Rep. Jack Kingston said that poor students should sweep cafeteria floors to get their lunches and another candidate, Rep. Phil Gingrey, defended Todd Akin’s infamous “legitimate rape” comments from 2012.
“Perdue’s mocking comments underscore just how out of touch he is with the average Georgian. Being a U.S. Senator is about representing all the people of Georgia, not just the elite and privileged,” Bliss said. “The Senate needs a conservative leader who will focus on solving problems, not a ‘royal’ who thinks he can go to the Senate and become the CEO of the other 99 [percent].”
Bliss added that though “Perdue brags about how he lived in Asia and all over Europe and seems to think that anyone who hasn’t lived overseas is somehow unqualified,” he has wavered on what he stands for, supporting Common Core before he was against it and limits to the 2nd Amendment before he was against that.
Bliss said that ultimately, “people want to vote for someone they can trust and relate to — someone who understands their problems — not someone who demeans others for not having an elitist pedigree.”
Recent polls have Perdue leading by nearly 10 percentage points over Handel in the crowded field, but those polls were taken before Palin’s endorsement. According to Bliss, Handel’s campaign has already raised over $100,000 since Palin’s endorsement, and the campaign has released a statewide radio ad touting Handel’s momentum for the May 20 primary to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
UPDATE: On her Facebook page, Palin said that Handel is “a superb commonsense conservative who’s willing and able to serve for all the right reasons!” and, “We should be so thankful she’s willing to go to Washington to shake up the status quo.”