Perdue ducks debate against Ossoff ahead of January runoff

U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff square off in an Oct. 28, 2020 debate in Savannah.

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff square off in an Oct. 28, 2020 debate in Savannah.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue is no-showing another debate.

The first-term Republican forced the cancellation of a pre-election showdown with Jon Ossoff on Channel 2 Action News just before the election to attend a rally with President Donald Trump.

This time, the Republican sent word to the Atlanta Press Club that he would not be participating in a Dec. 6 debate with Ossoff because he wanted to focus on energizing supporters and not, apparently, confronting his rival in an open forum.

The press club will instead represent Perdue with an empty podium at the event with Ossoff, who has confirmed he would participate. At a rally in Cobb County, Ossoff gave a taste of his response to Perdue’s decision.

“Imagine being a sitting U.S. senator too much of a coward to debate your opponent in public,” he said.

Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry said he saw the runoff as an “extension” of the general election phase, which already featured two debates, as he made clear the Republican wouldn’t participate in any other showdowns.

”We’re going to take our message about what’s at stake if Democrats have total control of Congress directly to the people,” he said.

Ossoff seems certain to remind audiences of Perdue’s dodge through Jan. 5. He sent out a release on Monday outlining six debates that his campaign has accepted, including a do-over of the scuttled WSB-TV debate.

"If Senator Perdue doesn’t want to answer questions, that’s fine, he just shouldn’t run for re-election to the U.S. Senate,” Ossoff said. “I offer the Senator any or all of these six debates, if he has the self-confidence to debate in public.”

Here’s the full statement from the Press Club:

"The Atlanta Press Club’s Loudermilk-Young Debate Series is disappointed that Sen. David Perdue has decided to not participate in his debate. 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.

"That is not our preference. The Atlanta Press Club works hard to provide a platform for all candidates running for public office. We believe it is an essential part of the democratic process for voters to have an opportunity to hear an exchange of ideas from the candidates so they can be better informed when they cast their ballots.

“In that spirit, we hope Sen. Perdue will change his mind. We will leave the door open for him to participate in our Dec. 6 debate.”