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Georgia 6th: Handel weighs in on 'livable wage' moment

Democrats called it a cringe-worthy gaffe. Republicans said it emphasized the stark divide in the contest.

Either way, one of the most memorable moments of Tuesday’s 6th District debate was Republican Karen Handel’s assertion that “I do not support a livable wage.” And the former Georgia secretary of state sought to elaborate on them after the showdown.

She told WSB's Richard Elliot that she said she doesn't support government mandates requiring higher salaries, a tried-and-true conservative message.

“I was talking about the mandate. My opponent believes that having more federal government mandates is what will grow salaries," she told WSB. "What I believe is the solution for all working Georgians to be able to earn a better salary."

Ossoff told WSB that it highlighted the contrast between a "fresh, independent voice for this community and - with all due respect to my opponent - a career politician."

The viral moment came when both candidates were asked whether they supported raising the minimum wage.

Handel prefaced her comments by saying it’s an “example of the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative" and added that she wants "an economy that is robust with low taxes and regulation."

Ossoff's campaign has stayed largely quiet on the remarks, leaving it to national Democrats to take up the issue. And they have: Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said it proves Handel has "no business being in Congress." The party's Twitter account called her comments "indefensible."

The topic seems certain to come up again on Thursday, the second and likely final debate between the two bitter rivals.

More: One down, one to go: What to watch in Thursday’s 6th District debate



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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.