U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk's four opponents in the May 24 Republican primary stepped up their attacks on the Eleventh District incumbent in a debate taped for broadcast this weekend.
The Atlanta Press Club debate, which will air on Georgia Public Broadcasting at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, highlighted the themes that have dominated the campaign, while all five candidates said they would support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president.
"We need to support the Republican nominee," challenger William Llop said. "We need to support and all get behind Donald Trump."
Loudermilk, a freshman seeking a second term, faced questions from opponents over his 2015 votes for then-House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the omnibus spending bill that kept government operating late last year.
Billy Davis told Loudermilk there was no reason for him to vote for the spending bill and that it helped fund Planned Parenthood. Daniel Cowan said Trump himself has blasted those Republicans who voted for the spending plan.
Loudermilk countered that the spending plan protected Georgia's water supply and helped fund the military. It did not, he said, send money to Planned Parenthood.
Challenger Hayden Collins said Loudermilk, however, showed more fire in the debate then he has as an elected official.
"You’re bold in front of this panel but when it came time for courage in Washington you went cold," Collins said. "We need boldness in Washington not in front of a panel."
His vote was bold, Loudermilk said.
"The easy vote would have been to simply make a political statement, come back home and be a hero," he said. "I’m not going to stand and let the others take the shots because I ran for the Eleventh District to protect our water rights, to protect our military."
When not targeting Loudermilk, the challengers called for federal action on a variety of issues. Collins said domestic energy production must expand and Davis said he agreed with Trump on immigration.
"Yes, we’ve got to build the wall (along the U.S.-Mexican border)," he said. "Trump got it right in the early days when he said we have to stop the illegals from coming in and taking our jobs and bringing in heroin, bringing in drugs."