Savannah Hulsey Pointer, FISM News
In one of the hottest gubernatorial elections of this midterm cycle, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams squared off in a debate Sunday night. The two candidates put particular focus on crime and abortion in the Peach State with just over a week left before voting day on November 8.
This election marks a rematch of the 2018 contest.
In the debate, Abrams sought to criticize the divisive social policies of the GOP incumbent and even attempted to link him to his fellow Republican candidate in the state’s highly heated Senate race, Herschel Walker, according to Axios coverage of the debate.
Kemp pointed voters toward Abram’s previous negative statements about law enforcement saying she supported “defunding the police” and cash bail changes, according to The Washington Examiner.
“When we had civil unrest and we had hundreds of people that were literally trying to burn our capital city down this past session, we gave our attorney general more powers to go after street gangs because of, quite honestly, local [district attorneys] that don’t want to prosecute gangs,” Kemp said. “It is Miss Abrams that has said that she wants to defund the police. She wants to eliminate cash bail and have Get Out of Jail Free cards.”
Abrams responded by saying that she “never said [she] believe[s] in defunding the police,” but rather she supports public safety and accountability.”
However, in a 2020 interview with CNN, Abrams voiced a much different answer to the question of defunding the police.
Stacey Abrams tonight: “I've never said that I believe in defunding the police."
Stacey Abrams in 2020: "We have to reallocate resources, so yes" I support defunding the police. pic.twitter.com/gcWtUk8Ogj
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 31, 2022
Kemp later asked the moderator for a chance to speak to Abrams’ criticism of his gun policy, saying he had eased restrictions partially to address a backlog created by the pandemic.
“[Criminals] don’t care what the laws are. They already got the guns,” he said. “The problem was law-abiding citizens couldn’t get a dang permit from the local government because governments were shut down. They were slow playing the permitting process. The law is still the same that’s out there.”
Abrams was displeased with Kemp’s changes, saying that there are insufficient waiting periods before purchasing a firearm.
“I know that the person responsible for the weapon is the person holding it,” Abrams said. “But I also believe in trust but verify, and the only way to verify whether a person is lawful or not is to look at their background.”
“We need a governor who puts safety before the NRA,” she added.
The pair also sparred about Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” which was passed three years ago with Kemp calling his stance on pro-life issues “honest and transparent.”
“It is not my desire to move the needle any further on this issue,” Kemp said. “I personally don’t see a need to go back. But when you’re governor, you have to deal with all kinds of legislative issues that are out there, so we’ll look at those when the time comes.”
Abrams responded by saying that women are “in danger” as long as Kemp is governor and that she would repeal HB 481 if she wins the office of governor.
“Brian Kemp does not have a plan for the lives of the women who are being forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies,” she said, calling late-term abortions “concerning.” “He refuses to defend us and yet he defended Herschel Walker, saying that he didn’t want to be involved in the personal life of his running mate. But he doesn’t mind being involved in the personal lives and the personal medical choices of women in Georgia.”
Abrams finished her closing remarks saying, “I want you to know that polls do not see you, but I do. And the only poll that matters, is the poll at the ballot box.”
According to FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, Abrams, a former Georgia state lawmaker, is behind the incumbent by an average of 7 to 8 points.