ATLANTA — Atlanta businesswoman and WNBA team owner Kelly Loeffler was announced on Wednesday as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's pick to fill retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson's seat.
She spoke at length in an introductory press conference, touting her conservative values and aligning herself closely with President Donald Trump's policies.
Here are five takeaways from her first public statements as a Senate appointee:
- She positioned herself firmly alongside President Trump: Much of the rancor around Kemp's Senate selection centered on reports that the governor was choosing Loeffler despite Trump's objection, with the president apparently preferring Rep. Doug Collins. Loeffler, however, explicitly said she would fully back the president in the Senate. "No one will fight harder for our state, for our nation, for our president and for our conservative values," she said. Loeffler also called the impeachment hearings against the president a "circus" that "angered" her.
- She touted her cultural conservative bona fides: Loeffler said she had a humble background - growing up on a family farm as the fourth generation of corn and soy bean farmers, and that her early life revolved around "farming, church, school and 4-H." "Hard work, faith and family - this is not a political slogan, this is at the foundation of everything I believe," she said.
- She supports flashpoint conservative priorities: The Atlanta Dream owner said she was ardently pro-life, saying "the abortion-on-demand agenda is immoral" and pledging to support a 20-week abortion ban in Congress. She also said she was pro-Second Amendment and pro-wall. She appeared to try to reassure conservative skeptics who might have concerned her business background, tony Buckhead address and past contributions to Democrats would pin her as a moderate.
- She indicated she would bring a quiet style to the Senate: You might not see Loeffler making the rounds on Fox News or CNN or making waves on Twitter as much as other politicians, if she stays true to what she said Wednesday. Loeffler said that in Congress "I may not be the loudest voice in the room," but noted, "you don't have to be shrill to be tough." "I've been called soft-spoken, but I've also been called a lot worse," she said, adding that she "will never back down" as a lawmaker.
- She may not see a lot of common ground to reach with Democrats: While she praised her predecessor Sen. Isakson - who has been widely regarded for his willingness to work across party and ideological lines - as a "true statesman," she otherwise spoke of Democrats in scathing terms. She said that "Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, that whole socialist gang in Washington" had taken over the Democratic Party and "want to overturn our way of life, because they resent America's success." She said they would ensure that "everything that has made our country great is destroyed."
Kelly Loeffler Senate appointee