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What They’re Saying: Jon Ossoff Slams Sen. Perdue on COVID-19 Pandemic Failures in First Debate

Ossoff sharply attacked Perdue for downplaying the threat of the pandemic while working to line his own pockets

Ossoff held Perdue accountable for telling Georgians the risk to our health would be “low”

Perdue had no message but resorting to “false claims”

Atlanta, Ga. — Yesterday in the Atlanta Press Club/Georgia Public Broadcasting U.S. Senate debate, investigative journalist and Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jon Ossoff came out on offense, holding Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) accountable for his constant downplaying of the pandemic and lies to Georgians.

Ossoff repeatedly spoke about the human lives lost from the pandemic, which Perdue told Georgians posed “low” risk to our health and would have “little” impact on the economy. Ossoff reminded Georgians that this spring, Perdue compared the virus to the common flu — all while heavily trading medical and vaccine stocks to enrich himself.

“Senator, come out to the real world where people are suffering. This isn’t about Democrats versus Republicans and liberals versus conservatives. This is about the people of the United States against crooks like you in Washington — too busy enriching yourself while you’re in office to protect us from the most significant threat to our health and our prosperity in generations, a threat you systematically downplayed and denied and have failed to address responsibly or effectively,” Ossoff said.

Later, after Ossoff once again slammed Perdue for his denialism, the Senator called Ossoff’s remarks on the pandemic “idle chatter,” to which Ossoff hit back:“Senator, I’m astounded. It is not idle chatter, Senator. It’s 220,000 Americans killed by a virus … 220,000 Americans have been killed, and listen to you — schoolyard insults. Not a shred of empathy. Not a shred of personal responsibility — that a virus you told us posed low risk to our health, that a virus you compared to the ordinary flu, that an administration response that was obviously totally incompetent, which you enabled and praised, has compounded the human tragedy and the economic damage. You should be ashamed of yourself, sir.”

Perdue, on the other hand, had no message of his own, instead resorting to what the Associated Press called “false claims” about Ossoff.

In case you missed it, here’s what they’re saying:

ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: In first debate, Ossoff and Perdue each try to paint rival as yes man or ‘rubber stamp’ 
Greg Bluestein

  • Though the two rivals bickered over a range of policies, the showdown was bracketed by discussion of the still-raging coronavirus outbreak that’s killed more than 200,000 Americans and sickened millions more. Echoing Joe Biden’s election message, Ossoff accused Perdue of downplaying the disease.
  • “The health care workers have done their jobs. It’s politicians like Sen. Perdue who have not. And everybody knows it,” Ossoff said. “We need government that is honest and competent, that empowers public health experts in a public health emergency.”
  • “Senator, I’m astounded. It’s not idle chatter, senator. It’s 220,000 Americans killed by a virus,” said Ossoff, who runs a firm that makes investigative documentaries, adding: “And listen to you — schoolyard insults. Not a shred of empathy. Not a shred of personal responsibility.”
  • “This isn’t about Democrats versus Republicans and liberals versus conservatives,” the Democrat said. “It’s about the people of the United States against crooks like you in Washington, too busy enriching yourself in office.”


ASSOCIATED PRESS: Ossoff slams Perdue over virus; Republican cries socialism 
Ben Nadler

  • During their first debate, Democrat Jon Ossoff hammered Sen. David Perdue on his response to the coronavirus pandemic, while the Georgia Republican accused Ossoff of backing a “radical socialist agenda” — an assertion he sometimes backed with false claims.
  • Ossoff said the senator has downplayed the risk of COVID-19, compared it to the common flu and enabled President Donald Trump “in a pandemic response that everybody from all parties knows has been a disaster.”
  • “We need government that is honest and competent and that empowers public health experts in a public health emergency,” Ossoff said.


NEW YORK TIMES: Georgia’s first Senate debate was hard to tell apart from a presidential debate. 
Maggie Astor 

  • Mr. Perdue used attack lines essentially identical to the ones Mr. Trump has used against Joseph R. Biden Jr., claiming falsely that Mr. Ossoff supported the Green New Deal, open borders and defunding the police. 
  • He used the words “radical socialist agenda” at least seven times, prompting Mr. Ossoff to respond at one point, “We can see you’re reading from your notes that your staff has prepared for you.”
  • For his part, Mr. Ossoff, who narrowly lost a special election in 2017 in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, sought to tie Mr. Perdue to the Trump administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, noting several times that Mr. Perdue had echoed the president’s false characterization of the virus as no worse than the flu.


11ALIVE ATLANTA: Perdue, Ossoff tangle in first US Senate debate 
Doug Richards

  • In the virtual debate for Perdue’s US Senate seat, Ossoff reminded viewers that Perdue has backed the president consistently – from the economy to the pandemic.
  • “You assured us the risk to Americans was low and compared it to the common flu,” Ossoff said.

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