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Loeffler, Warnock trade barbs in contentious Senate debate

Policy discussion mixed with plenty of attacks between the two candidates who will square off again in January.

ATLANTA — Sunday night's Atlanta Press Club debate proved to be a sometimes blunt exchange that pitted two very different ideologies against one another on a national stage.

Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler said she is the candidate who would create jobs and help boost the economy. Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock said he would deliver aid in response to the pandemic and seek criminal justice reform.

But both spent most of the hour-long debate attacking each other.  

"Radical, liberal, Raphael Warnock," Loeffler said more than a dozen times when describing her opponent. She also suggested that his words as a preacher showed him to be anti-military anti-police and out-of-touch with Georgians.

Warnock shot back saying all the above is false and claiming Loeffler continues to take his preaching out of context.

"She made a calculation that, after being in the senate for 10 months, she doesn't have a case to be made for why the people of Georgia should keep her there," Warnock said.               

Loeffler, a career businesswoman, is seeking to be elected for the first time after being appointed in 2019 by Governor Brian Kemp to replace retiring Johnny Isakson. She received support from Kemp and President Donald Trump.

But the two have publicly been at odds recently and Loeffler was asked who her loyalty is with.

"My loyalties are with Georgia. I had a calling to public service to serve the people of Georgia,” she said.

Loeffler didn't pick sides and added she appreciates the support from both the governor and president.   She was also asked several times if she believes trump lost Georgia with the state's election results certified.

"It is unfortunate that the focus is on a debate about who won the election when this process is still playing out," she said.

Each time, she didn't directly say if Trump did or didn't lose - a point Warnock addressed.

"Kelly Loeffler continues to cast doubt on an American, democratic election,” said. “It is time to put this behind us and get concerned on the needs of ordinary people."

Both candidates found only one item they agreed upon on Sunday. Loeffler and Warnock each said that, if deemed safe by public health leaders, they would take a COVID-19 vaccine and encourage Georgians to do the same.