Runoff transcripts: Deal and Handel on taxes and the meaning of ‘pro-life’

The two Republican runoff candidates for governor had their first joint appearance Friday in Marietta, before a gathering of the Cobb County Republican Women’s Club.

Overflow tables were required. A few Democrats from the Roy Barnes campaign, headquartered nearby, stood in the back to listen.

The Insider was given the honor of posing questions to former congressman Nathan Deal and former secretary of state Karen Handel. Answers to two of them provoked some differences worth considering.

On the subject of taxes, former secretary of state Karen Handel appeared to be shading – ever so slightly – her position on elimination of the state income tax. Three weeks ago, she and John Oxendine had been the only advocates of such a move.

She also appeared to walk onto ground plowed by Democrats in their primary, urging an examination of sales tax exemptions.

Said Handel:

“We do need comprehensive tax reform in the state of Georgia. As part of that, and I think the tax commission is going to look at this, we do need to pull down, if not eliminate, our state income tax, come up on sales tax.

“…..We need to examine those sales tax exemptions, which haven’t been looked at in decades.

“Our tax credit system – make sure that the tax credits that we’re giving, we’re getting the right bang for the buck. If they were designed to create jobs, are they really creating jobs?”

Deal concentrated on why he didn’t favor absolute reliance on a sales tax:

“I am a supporter of the Fair Tax at the federal level, but John Linder, who supports my campaign, as well as Phil Gingrey, John admits that you can’t simply translate that to the state level.

“I do believe we can go to a more consumption-based approach, but I think you have to be careful that you don’t do something dramatically, and therefore jeopardize the jobs of school teachers and other public employees who depend on a steady revenue source.

“Sales tax currently is a third of our income. Individual income tax is about half the income for our state. So when you start taking away half of your revenue stream, you better be awfully sure that you’re not going to jeopardize state programs.”

Given the tone of the final days of the primary that ended Tuesday, it was also fitting to ask each candidate to explain what the phrase “pro-life” meant.

Deal was first:

“My definition of pro-life is someone who believes in the sanctity of life. Someone who believes that life begins at conception. Someone who is willing to protect innocent life.

“I have a record of doing that. I believe that that is what most Georgians believe in. I believe that it is one of those fundamental principles that distinguishes us from other societies. It is something that we should not abandon lightly. It is something that we should be very careful that we do not unduly tamper with in a legislative process.

“I am pleased to have had the opportunity to vote on many issues relating to pro-life issues. And I have a 100 percent voting record in that regard….”

Handel followed:

“I think it’s no secret that I have a little different perspective than Mr. Deal. I am an absolute, pro-life Christian. I do believe that life begins at conception.

“I also believe, however, that as a policy-maker, as we strive to save every single unborn baby that we possibly can, we also have to look at every situation that’s out there.

“For a government to look into the face of a mother of a 13-year-old who has the bad fortune of having been raped, and then becomes pregnant, and tells that mother what is going to happen in her family – I think that is between that family, their faith, and God.

“I also think that Georgia Right to Life is wrong on the issue of invitro fertilization. They are wrong on the issue of fertility treatments. And I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you this: They have also been grossly misstating my beliefs on this issue, and I am not going to be ashamed to stand up and tell you that I am a pro-life Christian…..”

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46 comments Add your comment

Where's the rail?

July 23rd, 2010
4:26 pm

Kudos to Karen Handel for standing up for her Christian based beliefs on the issue.


July 23rd, 2010
4:27 pm

mr. galloway..i appreciate the two important questions you asked our candidates in marietta today. and i appreciate the straight foward answer both candidates gave. now..i hope all the negative bloggers will keep their comments to themselves and leave things alone. meetings, debates and informative gatherings with the candidates is exactly what we need leading up to the aug 10 run off. i still believe ga. voters are capable of making good judgement about the candidates and will cast their vote accordingly. lets stop being negative and be positive and end the voter apathy that plagued the july 20th primary. again, thank you for you’re interest and help in ga. politics.


July 23rd, 2010
4:32 pm

The difference between the two parties is that Democrats respect live, not only at inception to birth, but until death. Where are Handal and Deal on high risk pools? Georgia having one of the highest premature death state rankings, in the nation?

Bobby Anthony

July 23rd, 2010
4:42 pm

Enter your comments here

The rail is here

July 23rd, 2010
4:42 pm

I wish people would stop using Christianity as some sort of campaign point. I understand that you go to church… but tell me how you’re going to fix my state.

Jawgee Goobers is Good

July 23rd, 2010
4:45 pm

Whassup, Jawgee Goobers?

Thanks for the Laughs.

Marlboro Man

July 23rd, 2010
4:47 pm

What GA needs is a progressive income tax say 10% on the over $250k crowd.


July 23rd, 2010
4:51 pm

Well, I’m glad to see that neither promised anything. Mrs. Handel’s stance on both issues goes along with what I believe. I also believe that she is a very honest person, so therefore, she’s getting my vote in the runoff and the General Election :)

Bobby Anthony

July 23rd, 2010
4:53 pm

If Deal wins Georgia will be in bad shape. If Fat Boy Barnes or Handel win we will be in worse shape.

GI Dolly...

July 23rd, 2010
5:01 pm

Ask Handeless about legit parents, and how Fulton failed to implement the security issues with the court house after Brian Nichols killed people. Why should a dishwasher be in charge of the Ga National Guard? Army doesn’t allow dropouts in the lowest ranks, Handeless should not be in charge of National Guard.

Cobb GOP

July 23rd, 2010
5:35 pm

Will Handel tell high school kids that they can get a GED and become Governor? What a joke!

Rural Education

July 23rd, 2010
5:59 pm

I too am tired of hearing about religion. We have separation of church and state for a reason. I actually had a church member tell me that if you voted for a Democrat you were immoral. Churches bemoan about how people are moving away from the church, no wonder when they have spent the last 30 years knee deep in politics.


July 23rd, 2010
6:41 pm

Want to cut taxes Mr. Deal? Start “small” with automobile ad valorum “birthday” tax!

DJ Sniper

July 23rd, 2010
7:25 pm

Like someone said earlier, I’m sick of these politicians dragging religion into this race. Personally I don’t care if you’re Baptist, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever. If you’re able to run this state the way it should be run, you’re ok with me. Sadly, the GOP candidates know that all they have to do is mention their faith and that will endear them to votes from people who may not even know where they really stand on certain issues.


July 23rd, 2010
7:35 pm

Knowing whether someone claims to be a “Christian” is only meaningless to people for whom the term is, in practice, meaningless.

So, “November,” Handel states that she is an “absolute pro-life” candidate and believes “life begins at conception” except, for example, when a teenager is the one carrying said “life”? Give me a break . . . that ain’t “honest.”

Dirk Digler

July 23rd, 2010
8:15 pm

What happened to the separation of church and state? This shouldn’t even be a campaign issue to the ‘I want my country back’ crowd who want to abide by the Constitution.

On another note, you morons are trying to elect a Governor who only has a GED. And you think Sarah Palin is a joke. At least she graduated.

Independently yours

July 23rd, 2010
8:46 pm

Let’s go ahead and blur the issues by throwing out religious beliefs and anti-abortion rhetoric.

rocks&glass houses

July 23rd, 2010
9:16 pm

A Gov with a GED ARE YOU SERIOUS??????

Al Daniell

July 23rd, 2010
10:08 pm

I am very confused about what you believe. You say you are a pro life Christian, but you name three reasons in your brochure, that came to me in the mail, when you would support abortion. I don’t believe Jesus would support abortion and Christian means little Christ’s. I am very surprised and displeased that Sarah Palin is supporting you with that kind of belief. I guess I will need to rethink my thoughts on Sarah Palin.

Henry Conservative

July 23rd, 2010
10:22 pm

An observation about the labeling of Nathan Deal as a so-called Clinton Democrat by Karen Handel: Nathan Deal joined the GOP in April 1995, while Republican Governor Sonny Perdue was still an elected Democrat serving in the Georgia Senate. Most of us that have watched the growth of the Republican Party in this state have seen any number of conservatives bolt the Democratic Party and go to the GOP; e.g. the state senators that joined the GOP in 2002 and shifted the Georgia Senate to the Republican Party.

Using the rhetorical standard Handel aspires to use against Deal, then President Reagan could have always been labeled a Roosevelt Democrat, as the Gipper did not offically leave the Democratic Party and join the GOP until the early 1960’s. If someone such as Nathan Deal has been elected to office seven times as a Georgia Republican, that probably confirms their ideological identity.

The Goobernator

July 23rd, 2010
10:34 pm

Deal says He’s pro life but avoids specifics. Handel says she’s Christian Pro life but has compassion to look at unfortunate situations and say these are personal matters. Perhaps she can rise above the muck after all.


July 23rd, 2010
11:00 pm

Mr. Galloway, are there more questions to this?
I suggested you ask what they plan to do about the water crisis in Atlanta. If Metro Atlanta runs out of water, it will become a ghost town. It will take lots of money to fix this, so hold off on cutting taxes.
If Atlanta runs out of water the abortion mills will have to shut down too, so the right to life crowd will be happy.


July 23rd, 2010
11:05 pm



July 24th, 2010
5:40 am

There are many people today who only have GED’s and have done better than most people with a college degree or high school dipolma. So quit complaining about someone with a GED until you know the whole story. People with GED’s can go to college or didn’t you know that.

As far as religious beliefs, leave those out of campaigning. They have no place in a campaign. As far as a teenager and having a baby go back and read what Handel said. If you can read. Why should a teenager or anyone for that matter that has been raped have to carry a baby to term. Why should a mother’s life be given for a baby? I don’t believe in abortion, but you know what it is not my decision and I don’t have to live with it and I believe that it is no one else’s decision either but the person that is thinking of have one. What right do you have to tell someone else what they can or cannot do with their own body?


July 24th, 2010
6:41 am

Only in Georgia, can a person without a college degree be seriously considered for governor. LMAO


July 24th, 2010
8:38 am

Deal is correct on the “fair tax” at the state level. Folks clamor that government ought to be run like a business, but how many of them understand that – unlike a business where you can get a loan to cover operating expenses to get you through a rough patch – governments in Georgia are not allowed to incur debt? they are required by the Georgia Constitution to have a balanced budget.

I don’t think anyone wants to allow the state to begin deficit spending, but without a steady stream of income, that’s what it would take to provide the services citizens want. Sales tax is simply too elastic to rely on.


July 24th, 2010
9:17 am

enough with the taxes.Open up the prisons and make them pull up their pants..

casual observer

July 24th, 2010
9:52 am


“governments in Georgia are not allowed to incur debt”. Oh really?

So all of the state, county and municipal bonds have been issued illegally?

casual observer

July 24th, 2010
9:58 am

We have examples of government operations that are fiscally responsible all over the nation but somehow Georgia politicians, rather than copy another program, keep trying to prove their worth by developing new programs.

Why does not one GA Sheriff copy the AZ Sheriff’s program and save taxpayer dollars while treating prisoners like criminals instead of guests?


July 24th, 2010
11:22 am

4th place? LOL


July 24th, 2010
12:50 pm

Folks, especially you repeat bloggers.
We are being played by the GARTL bunch who have artfully shifted the campaign back to abortion. This gives them national news standing. If you would have attended even one speech from Karen Handel you would have heard her clear message on transportation, economy, jobs, etc.
That the GA RTL attacks the only women in the campaign, who could not be a mother because of medical condition, is horrible.
Hope every woman will rise up against these tactics and support Handel. Mr. Deal, did you think we could not see through that threat in your ad – “only real women” support Deal?
shame shame shame

T Knight

July 24th, 2010
12:53 pm

Gman….. why don’t you tell that to Michael Dell, Bill Gates, or Richard Branson. The don’t have degrees. Your point is moot….. try something else.

Lester Maddox

July 24th, 2010
2:31 pm

T Knight, yes sir! You are so right! Education is meaningless for the leader of a state of nine million+! In your list of entrepreneurs that do not have a college degree and hit it big why not add Adolph Hitler? Look what he achieved without a college degree and he led a country much larger than Georgia! Also don’t forget about me, Lester Maddox- the last governor of Georgia with no degree. Look me up in Wikipedia. I made quite an impact 40 years ago.

Those defending Handel’s lack of an education need to find a new approach. If all you need is god old’ common sense to run the state or become successful why don’t we just shut the whole University System of Georgia down? That will go a long way toward solving the budget problems. While we are at it, T Knight, why don’t you go to a third world country where perhaps the doctors don’t have college degrees either. I am sure an MD with no college can fix you up just fine- all it takes is common sense and the right attitude. Plus, look at all those educated doctors who make mistakes which proves medical training is a waste of time. Yes sir, we need a Governor with no degree and doctors with no college! In fact, since Handel is proving college is a waste of time, when she becomes Governor she can roll back the hiring standards for many state employees. Based upon T Knight’s logic, if no college is good enough to run the state why do we need lawyers with law degrees or government auditors to have accounting degrees? Karen can get rid of those requirements and fill the slots with people like her. Yep, it is clear as Sarah Palin’s glasses that this kind of training is not needed (oops, Palin has a degree). T Knight is right! How dare anyone question Handel’s education. Richard Branson proves it is not needed.

The bottom line regardless of Handel’s defenders is that education is important. Look at all the progress Georgia and nation have made in the last 100 years due to higher levels of education. The Handel defenders would be better served to admit that their candidate has a flaw but claim she is still the best choice instead of acting like higher education does not matter


July 24th, 2010
2:43 pm

Nice try, ted. GRTL is not allowing Ms. Handel to tdefine herself as pro-life when she talks out of both sides of her mouth. She says she believes human life begins at conception and is precious. But she says its ok to abort babies when their father is a criminal–punish the baby for the father’s crime. She says there should be no restrictions on in vitro fertilization, but lots of current IVF procedures involve throwing away embryos based on their “quality” or genetics. Her tender story about her sister would conflict with this, wouldn’t it? And does she really support Octomom kind of unrestricted IVF?

Pork Chop

July 24th, 2010
3:52 pm

@Lester Maddox

“Look me up in Wikipedia. I made quite an impact 40 years ago.”

I am sorry you used Governor Maddox’s name to post your opinion. He deserves far better. For your information, Governor Maddox left office poorer than when he entered it. He did not profit from the office. He also hired more black people to state jobs than any governor before or since him. The liberal news media called him a racist. He was not a racist, but a firm believer in individual rights. Generations that followed that era only know what they read or are told by others, and that information is molded by what a liberal media spewed. Please use some other name when posting. I don’t think you deserve to use that one.


July 24th, 2010
4:27 pm

Education is important. And for specialized fields of work such as being a Doctor
or Lawyer then certainly there are strict standards. But we are not electing either. I’m not aware of an undergraduate major or graduate program that specializes in Governor. People like Karen Handel are the exception not the rule. I certainly have learned more beyond college on my own via reading, working and living. Autodidactics aren’t uncommon. Previous commentors have listed a few. For the B.A.’s out there feeling annoyed at my comment I would point out that William Blake is among these people. And filmmakers from James Cameron to Orson Wells. Google “notable autodidacts” . The argument is not “college bad, karen good.”
The point is that despite all the obstacles Karen had, she overcame and persevered. It is not typical and certaintly not a flaw.

Lester Maddox

July 24th, 2010
7:36 pm

Pork, I am a Georgia native and while I was not old enough to vote for Lester Maddox I remember him as Governor. I recall him riding a unicycle and greeting people at the Georgia welcome centers. I know about his restaurant and the axe handle. Next time I speak to my Dad I will ask if he voted for Lester but I am pretty sure he did. Lester was certainly better than Jimmy Carter who came after him.

My main point in using the Lester Maddox handle was not to disparage Lester per se but to point out that it has been two generations or 40 years since we had a Governor with no college degree. That was a long long time ago- a totally different era when a lot fewer people had college diplomas. Today many many more people as percentage of the population have college diplomas.

Jeff, my point to you is not whether she persevered despite all the obsticles but whether she is best qualified.

That said, going forward I will use a new handle that I think reflects Karen even better. Just saw her checking out at Kroger in our neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. Stay tuned……

Pundit Mom

July 24th, 2010
10:24 pm

Ms. Handel’s lack of a college degree devalues the importance of higher education. Ms. Handel likes to call herself a “next generation” leader, but the “next generation” is very well aware of the importance of a college education. Apparently, Ms. Handel just didn’t think it was necessary or a priority. In this day and time there is virtually no reason for someone, other than a lack of ability, not to get a degree. Money can’t be an excuse–there are plenty of grants/scholarships available. Time can’t be an excuse–there are plenty of evening and online classes that could be taken. Maybe she’s not college material? Years ago when Ms. Handel realized she wanted to be a public political figure she should have enrolled in school and taken care of this issue. She is no “next generation” leader. It is “old school” to think a degree is not necessary to be the governor of Georgia.


July 24th, 2010
10:58 pm

Pork Chop,
Yooz so right been us a long stretch of time since we had a govena like that great american the axe handle toating Lestah Madducks
jus wished some of these today govena candidates wood ketchup on some thur readin bout Gov Madducks
we gots to stops this liberalz media

GI Dolly...

July 25th, 2010
7:36 am

Handeless wants anyone that says ‘hurtful’ things should resign, especially when she is called desparate, or a barren woman. Or people that tell the truth about her…a dropout.

Ga Values

July 25th, 2010
8:08 am

Nathan Corruption Deal has been a Washington Insider for 18 years, he has done little or nothing for Georgia but has made himself a multi millionaire. Just remember Deal’s middle name is CORRUPTION.


July 25th, 2010
8:59 am

yall should have listened to me……….


July 25th, 2010
10:13 am

Deal & Obama have Law degrees, how much good has that done?? Better a Honest woman than a Corrupt Lawyer/Politician.

T Knight

July 25th, 2010
7:02 pm

Just remember this….. Nathan Deal is like John Kerry. He voted for money to planned parenthood before he voted against it.


July 26th, 2010
8:43 am

Representative Nathan Deal (R-GA) is a nine-term member of Congress, representing Georgia’s 9th congressional district. His ethics violations stem from his abuse of his position for his personal financial benefit.

Recovery Services, Inc. a/k/a Gainesville Salvage & Disposal

Rep. Deal, along with his business partner Ken Cronan, owns a lucrative business, Recovery Services, Inc., that – through a no-bid contract – provides inspection stations to the state for the inspection of salvaged vehicles. The business earned $1.4 million between 2004-2008 and Rep. Deal personally took home $150,000 a year.

In 2008, Georgia Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham took over responsibility for the inspection system and found the operational costs and locations of the inspection stations to be too costly and restrictive. Comm. Graham decided the best course of action was to reform the system and award contracts through a competitive bidding process.

Rep. Deal and his staff, with assistance from Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, arranged meetings with Comm. Graham at which Rep. Deal and his chief of staff were present, to persuade him to reconsider his decisions, including the proposed elimination of $1.7 million that has been allocated for the program. After Comm. Graham’s plan was passed by the Georgia House, Rep. Deal’s chief of staff used his House email to contact Georgia state officials in an effort to stop the plan from passing the state Senate. The money for the program was eventually kept in the budget.

Rep. Deal’s abuse of his position and taxpayer resources to maintain a personally lucrative business deal does not reflect creditably on the House.

Just a taxpayer

July 26th, 2010
9:55 am

None of the gubernatorial candidates are willing to touch the third rail of how Georgia got into this debt. Over the last 20 years, there has been a big push to create equity between the salaries of the private sector and the public sector. I don’t have a problem with this, but there should also reflect an equity between the benefits. How many private sector industries have sponsored retirement programs that pay 60% of the highest earned salary (it used to be 90%). And the health insurance policy and other benefits are just not duplicated in the private sector.

State of Georgia is the largest employer in the state. It has also grown the number of employees over the 8 years by at least 20%. Is it any wonder that we’re faced with insurmountable debt?

Take a stand on that, if you’re less about politics and more about what will make Georgia solvent.