Senate debate on WSB canceled after Perdue pulls out of Sunday showdown

‘Shame on you,’ Ossoff said
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.

The third and final televised debate in the race between U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff was canceled Thursday after the Republican incumbent pulled out to join President Donald Trump in a planned rally in northwest Georgia.

The debate was scheduled weeks ago to air Sunday on Channel 2 WSB-TV, but Perdue backed out shortly after word spread that Trump would hold a rally for his reelection campaign in Rome the same day.

Locked in a statistical tie in the polls, Ossoff accused the Republican of ducking another face-to-face meeting after “millions saw that Perdue had no answers when I called him out on his record of blatant corruption, widespread disease and economic devastation” at a Wednesday debate.

“Shame on you,” Ossoff added.

Perdue spokesman John Burke said that “as lovely as another debate listening to Jon Ossoff lie to the people of Georgia sounds,” the senator will instead join Trump at the rally, which has not yet been formally announced by the president’s campaign but was expected to take place Sunday evening in Rome.

It was the second U.S. Senate debate from Channel 2 Action News scheduled for Sunday to be canceled. A separate showdown between U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and her top rivals, already rescheduled once, was scrapped this week after Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock declined to participate.

“Our goal had been to stage an event where Georgia voters would receive a fair look at the main candidates in this race,” Channel 2 stated in a note to candidates announcing the decision. “Without their participation this is not possible, and for that reason WSB-TV has made a decision to cancel Sunday’s noon debate.”

Oddly, a similar scenario played out during the heated race for governor in 2018 between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams.

After Trump announced he would hold a rally in Macon the Sunday before the election, Kemp pulled out of the debate to appear with the president — triggering a fierce back-and-forth between the two candidates.