Despite Sen. David Perdue’s (R-GA) rejection of an offer to debate his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff ahead of the Georgia runoff election that could help determine the balance of the Senate, the host of the scheduled debate, the Atlanta Press Club, will move forward with it.
The debate scheduled on Dec. 6 will be held with Perdue “represented by an empty podium,” according to a statement the Atlanta Press Club shared with Georgia Public Broadcasting on Monday.
“The Atlanta Press Club’s Loudermilk-Young Debate Series is disappointed that Sen. David Perdue has decided to not participate in his debate,” the press club said in a statement shared with GPB. “Jon Ossoff has confirmed his participation, so according to our rules, we will proceed with the debate and Sen. Perdue will be represented by an empty podium.”
The Atlanta Press Club added “that is not our preference,” according to GPB.
TPM reached out to the Atlanta Press Club and Perdue’s campaign office for comment.
CNN reported on Monday that MaryLynn Ryan, the chair of the Atlanta Press Club, said the incumbent Republican Georgia senator declined its invitation for the debate that it planned to host between Perdue and Ossoff. The Atlanta Press Club also plans to host a separate debate for the Senate runoff between Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and her Democratic challenger, Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Earlier this month, Perdue abruptly ditched his final scheduled debate against Ossoff days before Election Day, and decided to join President Trump at his Georgia rally on the night it was originally scheduled instead.
Perdue’s decision to call off their debate happened a day after Ossoff roasted Perdue in a blistering takedown during their debate last month that went viral. Ossoff called Perdue a “crook” and took the Georgia senator to task over the legal trouble he has had in his business dealings and his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement shared with TPM on Sunday, Perdue’s campaign said that the Georgia senator and Ossoff already had two debates in this election, before going onto criticize Ossoff.
“We’ve already had two debates in this election. In each, Ossoff lied repeatedly, and of course the media failed to hold him accountable,” Perdue’s campaign said. “He refused to talk about the issues and could not defend his radical socialist agenda. If Ossoff wants to keep lying to Georgians on TV, he will have to use his out-of-state money to pay for it. We’re going to take our message about what’s at stake if Democrats have total control of Congress directly to the people.”