On the Georgia trail: Kemp says Abrams is ‘too extreme,’ a virtual town hall and hacking

The Georgia governor’s race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams, has drawn national attention, with participation from many of the dominant figures in both political parties. (Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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The Georgia governor’s race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams, has drawn national attention, with participation from many of the dominant figures in both political parties. (Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Brian Kemp, in his role as Secretary of State, has accused the Georgia Democratic Party of a hacking attempt. His office has provided few details and no evidence, and Democrats are calling it a political stunt.

For more on the hacking claim and its reverberations, read our full report here.

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Stacey Abrams held a "virtual town hall" at 5 p.m., the same time that she was originally slated to debate Republican rival Brian Kemp. Kemp asked for the debate to be rescheduled after a timing conflict arose because he planned a rally in Macon with President Donald Trump at the same time.

Abrams refused to reschedule the debate, saying both candidates agreed on a date and time weeks ago and her Monday was already packed with events in coastal Georgia. Once Kemp backed out of the scheduled debate, she promised to come up with an alternative.

The virtual town hall was conducted through a live stream from Abrams' Facebook page. She avoided speaking about the controversy of the day and mostly stuck to her talking points. We recapped it here.

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Speaking of the Trump rally, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provided live updates from Macon.

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Early Sunday, Kemp tweeted a photo that appeared to show members of the New Black Panther Party stumping for Abrams while openly carrying firearms. He said it was proof that Abrams is a radical.

He wrote: "How radical is my opponent? Look at who is backing her. The New Black Panther Party is "a racist...antisemitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews, & law enforcement" RT if you agree that Abrams & the Black Panthers are TOO EXTREME for GA!"

Abrams’ campaign responded with a statement that said Kemp is the one whose followers are out-of-step with the rest of Georgia.

“Brian Kemp is the only candidate in this race who has posed for pictures with supporters wearing racist, hate-filled t-shirts and refused to denounce them, while Abrams continues to condemn any racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise discriminatory words and actions,” Abigail Collazo, a spokeswoman for Abrams, said.

 

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Appearing on NBC's News "Meet the Press" with Chuck Todd this morning, Abrams responded to Trump's accusations that she is "unqualified" to be governor.

“I find his assessments to be vapid and shallow,” she said. “I am the most qualified candidate. I am a business owner. I’m a tax attorney, who was trained at Yale Law School. I am a civic leader who helped register more than 200,000 Georgians. I am a very accomplished political leader who worked across the aisle to improve access to education, transportation, and I blocked the single largest tax increase in Georgia’s history. There is no one more qualified standing for this office in Georgia.”

Abrams also answered a question about whether the elections will be done fairly. The interview appeared to have been taped prior to Kemp’s office announcing that the Georgia Democratic Party was being investigated for accusations of hacking.

Abrams said she does think it will be a fair election.

“We have seen unprecedented turnout in this race from people who normally do not engage and do not vote,” she said. “Some of that has been driven by the conversations of voter suppression because one of the best ways to encourage people to use something is to tell them that someone is trying to take it away. Luckily we’ve had two court decisions against Brian Kemp.”

Watch the full interview here.

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Abrams’ campaign estimated that 600 to 700 people attended a rally in Augusta on Sunday evening. Local candidates fired up the crowd, giving the event a revival-like feeling.

She gave her usual stump speech, but toward the end she referenced Kemp and his office’s allegations of Democrats hacking the voter system.

“No matter what lies my opponent tells, no matter what stories he tells, we know the truth,” she said.

Afteward, she responded more directly when answering questions from the media.

“First of all, it’s not a real investigation,” she said. “ What has happened is that Brian Kemp is trying to cover up his failures in cyber security by blaming someone else. ... There were imperfections in their system, there were weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They were told;about this on Friday, and instead of owning up to the failure and making it right, he decided to blame Democrats.”

Abrams said she doesn’t know all the details about the vulnerability that was discovered, but she was told it has something to do with exposing voters’ personal information.

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