Candidates clash in Saturday debate double-header

The first of two debates Saturday in the race for governor is in the books, and while punches continued to be thrown, little new ground was broken.

Democrat Roy Barnes, Republican Nathan Deal and Libertarian John Monds met in a live televised debate on Channel 2 Action News at 12:30 p.m. They’ll gather again at Fox 5 at 5 p.m. Both debates are a prelude to the final face-off Sunday evening live on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

In the first round today, Deal decried what he called Barnes’ negative campaign and proceeded to land several jabs of his own. Barnes, meanwhile, replied that Deal and the Republican campaign against him has been as negative, if not more. Monds, meanwhile, said he’s the only candidate trying to keep the focus on issues facing Georgians.

Meanwhile, when the subject turned to those issues, Deal and Barnes both promised to work to protect the HOPE scholarship program, and the state-funded Pre-K program, both of which are funded by lottery accounts that are showing signs of stress.

Both Deal and Barnes said they favor keeping the current merit-based HOPE awards rather than moving to need-based scholarships.

“I think we need to keep it merit-based,” Deal said. “It’s worked very well in that regard.”

But, he said, he realizes there are concerns that lottery money for scholarships is running low.

“Do I think we’re going to have to be very careful?” he said. “Certainly.”

Barnes said if it becomes necessary, he would favor using tax dollars to keep lottery programs afloat.

“If we have, if we have to, we ought to go to the general fund to keep HOPE and Pre-K alive,” he said.

But Monds was less enthusiastic about lottery programs and said students who need help paying for college ought to have access to jobs to earn the money.

“If they fall short on being able to afford college, they should be able to find a job and pay the cost of their own education,” Monds said.

The next governor will also be in office when the General Assembly redraws district lines for all seats in the House, Senate and Congress. Barnes has said he favors creating an independent commission to handle reapportionment, and answered criticisms of how he influenced that process when he was previously governor  from 1999 to 2003. Barnes has b een accused of “strong-arming” the process to benefit Democrats.

“There are plenty of sinners on reapportionment,” Barnes said noting that Republicans redrew districts under Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2005. “Both sides have sinned on this.”

But Deal rejected the idea of an outside commission redrawing the lines.

“I think we have a commission,” he said. “It’s made up of the House and Senate. Those are the ones we traditionally use. I will not be a governor who strong-arms the General Assembly.”

Monds, too, said a commission isn’t necessary.

“We stick with the Legislature,” he said, adding that any independent commission would still come under political pressures.

The candidates turned on each other when allowed to question each other. Barnes asked Deal why a company he is part-owner of was several years late in paying nearly $400,000 in sales taxes on the airplane he’s using in his campaign, and why a tax lien shows the company currently still owes about $4,000.

“There you go again,” Deal said. “The sales taxes have all been paid.”

But Barnes was undeterred.

“If we had to depend on Mr. Deal’s payment of taxes we couldn’t run the state,” he said. “If you can’t pay your own taxes,  how can you expect to run a state effectively, efficiently and with honor and integrity?”

Deal questioned Barnes’ representation of a woman who sued the state in a failed attempt to overturn Georgia’s Voter ID law, saying it cost the state millions to defend the program. Barnes said he was representing a blind woman who was told she had to have a driver’s license to vote, noting that blind people don’t typically drive.

“She offered to sign an affidavit” swearing as to her identity, Barnes said. “We put people to death on sworn testimony all the time. And yet, that was not good enough.”

Deal said while the case was “sympathetic,” the law “is not aimed at those individuals, and this was a case where she had no standing to challenge it. The real issue here is are we trying to create an environment where people who cannot show us who they are, whether they’re citizens of this country are going to be entitled to vote in this country.”

In the next round, Barnes asked Deal to defend his votes while serving in the U.S. House against legislation aimed at requiring equal pay for women who do the same work as men.

Deal said the bills “were a trial lawyers dream. It wasn’t about equal pay. It was about being able to give a trial lawyer such as Mr. Barnes the right to go in and sue small businesses over a federate statute.”

But, Barnes said, “you’re either for equal pay for equal work or not.”

During questioning from the panelists, Deal was asked if he would put his personal finances and assets into a blind trust, as Barnes did when he was governor. Deal said he “absolutely” would, and said he is in the process of dealing with his own precarious financial situation. Deal faces a $2 million loan coming due in February, a debt related to the failure of a sporting goods store opened by his daugther and son-in-law.

“I have just liquidated a substantial portion of [assets] in just the last few weeks,” Deal said. “I have a contract on a sale of a building where the business is located. The rest is being financed.”

69 comments Add your comment

Matt

October 31st, 2010
5:46 am

After watching the debate on WSB on Saturday I was embarrassed at the way Deal and Barnes responded to each others questions. Deal and Barnes both acted like childish two year olds wanting to play with the same toy. However I was impressed at Mr. Mond’s response to the Questions. Did you notice that Deal and Barnes didn’t have a single negative thing to say to Mond. Mr. Mond seems to be the ideal candidate for this position. He is educated, mature and seems to have a lot of common sense unlike Barnes and Deal. Can we at least have a Gov’ that doesn’t have a name that sounds like a Barbeque pit restaurant Finally I am a white male supporting a black candidate because I don’t care what his or her race is as long as he or she can do the job and get it done efficiently.

Vince

October 31st, 2010
8:25 am

@Matt

I like Monds personally. It’s his over the top Libertarian ideas that I cannot go along with.

No one doubts he is the most decent man running.

Evander Holyfield

October 31st, 2010
8:41 am

I pity the fool who vote for Nathan ” Real Deal” Deal

The guy is so corrupt he stole my nickname.

Voter

October 31st, 2010
9:02 am

Mike

October 31st, 2010
10:14 am

Not sure what debate Ralph was watching. I don’t particularly like either candidate, but Deal looked like he’d smile in your face and tell you the sun rises in the west and you should just believe him because he told you. Deal particularly came off as disingenuous. I don’t care for Barnes either and think he’s a typical calculating politician. But I was really struck by Deal’s ‘you should just take my word for it’ attitude.

Maggy Martinez

October 31st, 2010
10:19 am

The Saturday debete help Roy Barnes to put his numbers up. He showed he has the experience to lead Georgia, and he got the grip during the debate to demostrate that he knows what he is taking about. Certainly, Neal has the state numbers and figures mess-up. He did counted with the wrong research about, how the state’s numbers were when Barnes left office. If Nathna Deal doesn’t know the numbers, then h did not show, during the debate, the necessary experience to lead this state. Certainly, Barnes got the necesary % to go to a run-off.

Justin

October 31st, 2010
10:47 am

ROY BARNES 2010!!!

catlady

October 31st, 2010
11:07 am

Mr. Barnes, before we go to any public funds for the lottery, we should first go to the exorbitant salaries and bonuses the Lottery Corp provides its executives. It is NOT a private company, as it has an exclusive STATE CHARTER to operate. The state can and should step in and dissolve its charter immediately, and charter a new corporation which would meet its mandate of percent given to education (which the present corporation has NEVER met!). I am sure there are many talented people who would be glad to work hard for a new corporation, for much smaller salaries and bonuses!

Vince: 8 years ago I swore I would never vote for Barnes. However, I had NO IDEA what the next 8 years would hold in terms of educational debasement– in terms of self-aggrandizement at the expense of the taxpayers. However, I could have overlooked Sonny Perdue’s machinations and voted for a Republican this year had it not been that the Republicans offered up Nathan Deal. I have been one of “his” constituents for almost 2 decades. I have received his tripe (at taxpayer expense) in my mailbox. I have seen him do nothing but suck on the public teat. Then we find that he has actually been enriching himself by his office (I fully believe this. Look at his wealth. Look at his refusal to be completely open about his finances.) He is a desperate man. If he does not win the governorship, how will he repay his debts. He is used to living a lush lifestyle. How can that continue? One answer is the one he has used before: use his office. I am NOT willing to be a party to enabling his self-enrichment.

I have thought a number of times about who could have been offered up that I could have voted for over Barnes. Actually, several of the Republican candidates might have had my vote if they had been up against Barnes. As I say, I have no love for him. There are several democrats I might have voted for happily.

However, since Deal is the candidate, I say NO DEAL. Let him run in the future, when he has cleared his name and regained (legally) his financial footing. Maybe even do some pro bono work. You know, get his hands dirty.

Casey Cagle is no better. I have had the same kind of surgery he had, and was back at work in days. If he is “too hurt to campaign” for governor, he is in too bad a shape to be governor, or even lt. gov. Besides, he gives me the same “uh oh” feeling Deal gives me. He needs to get well and then go out and get a real job for a few years.

Barnes doesn’t need this job to rescue his finances. I certainly don’t agree with all his stands. However, he is what we have left, sad to say.

I discount Monds for several reason, mainly because of his home-schooling his kids. I don’t think he is very motivate or knowledgeable about the problems facing public ed.

I wish to say, “God help Georgia!” However, I believe He wants us to show some smarts in helping ourselves!

Linda

October 31st, 2010
1:41 pm

Catlady, don’t discount Monds because of his homeschooling his kids. I too homeschool mine, and like him, I am very motivated and knowledgeable about the problems facing public education. THAT is the reason I choose to homeschool. Just because I choose not to impose the current sad state of public education (in my own district) on my own, doesn’t mean I am not motivated to help improve it for others. Monds has consistently stated that he wants to give parents more choices in educating their children, and give local school boards more independence to make their own decisions. One size does not fit all when it comes to educating children, either at the individual level or the community level.

By the way, Monds’ wife holds a PhD and is currently interim dean for the College of Business at Albany State University. If you ask me, their combined efforts in education indicate that they are very motivated in this regard. It is a sacrifice to homeschool; of that I am certain. Yet for those of us who do it, it is a most willing sacrifice for the best interests of our children.

Monds’ comment to the effect that students who need help paying for college need access to jobs to help pay for college is an indication of his philosophy of individual responsibility, instead of reliance on others (namely the ‘government’)! Isn’t that what we ask of students in general? Both Deal and Barnes would have been well served in their youth to have learned a lesson or two about individual responsibility.

I voted for Monds!

Real Vince

October 31st, 2010
2:02 pm

Deal does not look like he likes to argue, he likes to spray it, but he wimpers when attacked.

professional skeptic

October 31st, 2010
3:29 pm

catlady
October 31st, 2010
11:07 am

Preach it, catlady!

conservative teacher

October 31st, 2010
5:00 pm

Those of you who vote for Monds will regret it, trust me!!!!!!! We do not need another month of the two candidates’ campaigns against each other.
Nathan Deal is an honest man and some of you cannot tolerate it.

Home School Drop Out

October 31st, 2010
6:37 pm

To Old Timer:
You said this was the BABY that his mother did not want.
I always say it was the Baby she had before she got SAVED.

don

October 31st, 2010
9:25 pm

Catlady, I think the fact that Monds homeschools his kids shows just how much he understands how bad our school systems are. As far as the issue of scholarships goes, maybe it would be a good idea for the students to give a little thought to how much they are paying for college, instead of just blindly taking out loans.

For those who say that a vote for Monds is a waste: how can you actually vote for one of the other two??? It won’t take many people voting for Monds to through the election into a run-off. At that point hold your nose and vote for the crook or the one who failed the first time.

Smart like a Fox

October 31st, 2010
9:54 pm

Deal will do to Ga ,what the republicans have done to the tax payers in Norcross and Gwin.Co. ….only worse.

Ralph

November 1st, 2010
12:38 am

These posts turned into name calling. I merely want to expose the liberal bias of the AJC, and point out the information they exclude. Here is some:

Deal is holding a 10 point lead over Barnes in almost all of the polls. That is considered a “landslide”, but the AJC won’t ever use that term for a Republican.

Deal has gained significant endorsements throughout the state, including from The Augusta Chronicle, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, The Savannah Morning News, The Gainesville Times, The Chattanooga Times-Free Press and The Thomasville Times-Enterprise. The AJC no longer holds sway outside of the Atlanta metro area where they smear their opinion like the smog.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports: “If recent polls are correct, Deal probably will win outright, University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said. Barnes has virtually no chance to win and little chance to force a runoff, he said. This is totally opposite of all the articles and columns in the AJC about how a runoff is likely.

dawg37

November 1st, 2010
6:50 am

You’re right Furloughed, republicans thought Bush was genius. After the past two years, democrats are thinking the same. However, those are the same democrats who though Obama was an American.

Linda

November 1st, 2010
11:21 am

Conservative Teacher, I do not regret voting for MONDS. I know him to be an honest, truly good man, and his message is music to my ears. In addition, if Deal and Barnes are in a runoff I will enjoy watching them spend their millions in campaign funds slinging mud at each other, knowing all the while that they are eating up their campaign funds! I can turn off my television and radio and throw out their mountains of campaign paper that crowd my mailbox, with absolute abandon. What they can do is never run in MY state again if they don’t want to face the same prospects. We’re likely going to be stuck with one or the other of them for 4 years. Consequently, I’d like their campaign coffers to be DRY as a BONE and then maybe they (and their two parties)will think twice before giving us more of the same big, corrupt, strong arm politics, ever again.

maddie

November 2nd, 2010
1:00 pm

Not voting for either of these two clowns. Voting for Monds in protest.