The Jolt: The sting of being called a ‘lying, dog-faced pony soldier’

News and analysis from the AJC politics team

So on Sunday, 21-year-old Madison Moore, an economics student at Mercer University in Macon, was at a Joe Biden rally in New Hampshire with some of her college colleagues.

She had an opportunity to ask the former vice president why, given his poor performance in Iowa the previous week, voters should continue to have confidence in his campaign. It was a softball question.

Biden asked Moore if she’d ever been to an Iowa caucus. The nervous Moore hadn’t, but she nodded “yes” anyway.

“No you haven’t. You’re a lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” Biden said. “You said you were. Now you’ve got to be honest. I’m going to be honest with you. It was a little bit confusing in Iowa…”

The immediate climate appeared to be light, and the Biden campaign quickly said Biden was just joshin’ -- and making a cultural reference to a John Wayne movie. Which remains a bit murky.

Even so, on Monday, the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the video began spreading. Here's the Reuters clip. And the Fox News clip. And the NBC clip.

13MAZ in Macon caught up with Moore with an internet interview. The student said:

"Being intimidated by a vice president, I nodded yes. And I have not, and I told people that. It was a response I gave without thinking. I left in tears because I was afraid the media would frame me as some liar. The vice president had just called me a liar on national TV….."

In that and other interviews, Moore indicated that she didn't think the Biden campaign had much of a future. More from the Macon Telegraph:

[Moore] said Monday she did not plan for her question to blow up and create a national media story.

"If I had expected that I would've worn makeup," Moore [said]. "I would've looked a lot cuter."


One reason Joe Biden might want to retire that John Wayne reference: Our AJC colleague Mark Niesse notes that the number of registered voters in Georgia increased by 322,000 last year, a 3% hike that brings the total to nearly 7.2 million. It's the shift in age that impresses:

The number of Georgia voters in the 18-34 age group has jumped 68% since October 2016, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of the state's voter lists. That group now makes up 31% of the state's total.

During the same period, the proportion of voters 65 and older has declined from 24% to 19%.


Last week, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath of Marietta, was one of only seven Democrats in the U.S. House who voted against HR 2474, a measure intended to strengthen worker rights to unionize and negotiate for higher wage.

And so at noon Friday, union workers who supported her in 2018 will be protesting at McBath’s Sandy Springs office, Tony Tilley of the Communication Workers of America tells us.


The AJC's James Salzer reports that Georgia lawmakers who began a week of reviewing budget cuts Monday got some good news when the governor's office announced that state tax collections jumped 4.5% in January. Collections of individual income taxes were up 4.3% over January 2019, and the net sales tax take was up 4.6%. The news could reduce pressure on lawmakers:

"After seeing state revenues grow by only 0.9% for the first seven months of this fiscal year, we are entering the crucial tax filing season where the state's financial fortunes can change very rapidly," said Jeffrey Dorfman, the state's fiscal economist and a University of Georgia professor.


Given that action in the state Capitol has been reduced to a crawl, Democrats will attempt to liven things up with an 11 a.m. protest against budget cuts proposed by Gov. Brian Kemp.


Georgia's driver license agency has settled a federal lawsuit by agreeing on steps that will make it easier for Puerto Ricans and residents from other U.S. territories to apply for a license, the AJC's David Wickert reports.

The department agreed to allow residents from the territories — who are U.S. citizens — to transfer their driver's licenses to Georgia without taking driving or written tests. That's what people who move to Georgia from the 50 U.S. states are already allowed to do.

In addition, the DDS will no longer require Puerto Ricans to take a test of island geography, politics and culture to prove they are from that territory.

The settlement could make it easier for thousands of people to drive, get jobs and otherwise settle in Georgia. And it ends the long legal ordeal of Kenneth Caban Gonzalez, a Puerto Rico native who sought a driver's license in 2017 but wound up in jail, wrongly accused of using a fraudulent birth certificate to obtain a license.


On Monday, federal prosecutors blamed Chinese Army hackers with the devastating 2017 cyberattack on Atlanta-based Equifax. From our AJC colleague Michael Kanell:

That attack, arguably the worst heist of consumer data on record, led to the theft of data from more than 147 million consumers.

"This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people," said Attorney General William Barr, in a statement issued Monday. "Today, we hold PLA hackers accountable for their criminal actions."

Only a day earlier, on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Gov. Brian Kemp and 43 others at the National Governors Association winter meeting that their every move is being scrutinized by China. Said Pompeo, according to Politico:

"They've labeled each of you friendly, hardline or ambiguous," he said, describing a report put out by [a government-backed think tank] last year. "I'll let you decide where you think you belong. Someone in China already has. Many of you indeed, in the report are referenced by name."

Kemp said in a statement he appreciated Pompeo’s warning and that he will “look forward to working with him and the Trump administration to keep Georgians safe.”


The ACLU of Georgia and other organizations will hold a second town hall meeting on conditions at the Cobb County jail, where seven people have died in custody since 2018. The essentials: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Zion Baptist Church, 165 Lemon St., Marietta, GA 30060. The meeting will be streamed on Facebook Live.


U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler's campaign picked up an important supporter on Monday: Rayna Casey, an influential grassroots activist who co-chaired Donald Trump's 2016 campaign in Georgia.

Loeffler is trying to lock down as many Trump supporters as she can in her rivalry with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who is marketing himself as the president’s favorite in his challenge to the newcomer.

In other endorsement news:

-- One of the highest ranking Democrats in Georgia’s House is backing former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s campaign for president.

-- State Rep. William Boddie of East Point, the House minority whip, sent word that he plans to formally announce his endorsement of the Democrat within days.

-- State Rep. Spencer Frye of Athens endorsed Jon Ossoff’s U.S. Senate bid at the candidate’s town hall meeting in Athens late Monday. Ossoff is one of three leading Democrats competing to challenge Sen. David Perdue.

-- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted his endorsement of Sen. Kelly Loeffler this morning, saying she's "exactly the type of political outsider we need in Washington."


A left-leaning advocacy group has seized on a report by 11 Alive that U.S. Sen. David Perdue skipped a hearing on military housing to attend a fundraiser in 2019.

American Bridge launched a digital ad Tuesday that targets independents and military members.

Perdue’s office told the network that the Republican has “taken strong action to improve military housing at bases in Georgia.”

“The senator had to preside over the Senate floor that afternoon and then had other pre-scheduled meetings with Georgians,” said a Perdue aide.


Paulding County school board member Jason Anavitarte has joined the state Senate race for retiring Republican Bill Heath's seat. Anavitarte, who has close ties to Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, faces Dallas Mayor Boyd Austin in the race for the west Georgia seat.


Much of President Donald Trump's budget proposal will be ignored wholesale by Congress, but at least one item got widespread praise in Georgia: the $93.6 million to continue deepening the Port of Savannah.

Georgia U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, whose district includes Savannah, praised Trump for setting aside enough money to keep the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project on schedule for substantial completion by 2022.