Before heading to Savannah, Democratic nominee for governor Roy Barnes stopped by to talk to Frank Ski and Wanda Smith at V-103, one of Atlanta’s most popular radio stations – with a large African-American audience.
Right off the bat, Ski played an ad that – the radio host declared – Barnes had backed with a whole lot of money on his station. The clip had Republican rival Nathan Deal using the phrase “ghetto grandmothers.”
“What did you think about that?” Ski asked.
“I thought it showed a great deal of insensitivity and a lack of knowledge about our state. It’s offensive to me, and I can just imagine how offensive it is to others that would hear it. What does that mean? I don’t know what that means, but I’ve got a good idea that it’s not very favorable.”
The Democratic nominee talked about other topics for a while. Barnes called Zell Miller a “very progressive governor” – a bit of an inside joke, given that “progressive” is the new “liberal.”
And he condemned a very particular outside group playing in the governor’s contest:
“Never in Georgia’s history have we had an outside group such as the Republican Governors Association come in – and I think they’re going to end up seven or eight million dollars. Easily. An outside group that comes in and does nothing but distort the record that I had as governor.”
But ultimately, Ski got down to business, with the question on the minds of many of his listeners: “Did you distance yourself from President Barack Obama when he visited Georgia?”
“No. And I’ve said this several times. The president called me the day after the primary, which was on a Wednesday. I didn’t expect to win the primary without a runoff, so we had had three full weeks of schedule that already was set up.
“The day he was coming, on Monday, I had 80 sheriffs that were endorsing me throughout Georgia. So he called me on the day after, and – he’s got a great sense of humor, by the way. He said, ‘Congratulations.’ He says, ‘I’ll come down and cuss you if you need me to.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t want you to come down and cuss me.’
“And he laughed, and I said, ‘Listen, you’re going to be here Monday.’ I said, ‘I’ve got 80 sheriffs that are endorsing me. Tell me what you want.’
“He said, ‘I want you to go ahead with the sheriffs.’
“And I said, ‘Well, I’ll cancel it if you want me to.’
“He said, ‘I want you to go ahead with the sheriffs.’ He said, ‘Listen, you can always see me.’ He said, ‘I’m coming down there to raise some money on the national party,’ and he said, ‘You go on with your sheriffs.’
“Let me tell you this. This is the president of the United States. And the disrespect that he has been shown by the Republican Governors Association and by all, really, Republican establishment is astounding….”
Mark Rountree and Landmark Communications, a GOP political strategy firm, released another round of polling on Wednesday that showed the governor’s race largely frozen in place, with Republican Nathan Deal just below what he needs to escape another four weeks of campaigning.
Rountree adds this:
Landmark asked voters how they would vote between Deal and Barnes in the event of a runoff election. 51 percent of voters chose Deal and 43 percent chose Barnes – an 8-point margin.
Rountree said, “Libertarians decidedly come down on the side of Deal. Third party voters say they would support Deal over Barnes by a 3 to 1 margin.”
The poll was based on exchanges with 1,686 “active voters” on Tuesday. MOE is +/- 2.4 percentage points.