Political Insider

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No more Ms. Nice Nunn

Dublin, Ga. -- U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn gave the penultimate speech at today’s state Democratic convention, shaking off her easy-going demeanor to level a tough, reddish-meat attack on GOP rival David Perdue.

This was Nunn’s chance to connect to several hundred grassroots activists necessary to a November victory, and she successfully gave notice that she doesn’t intend to be steamrolled by Republicans inside or outside the state.

Here’s how the daughter of former U.S. senator Sam Nunn waded in:

“The Republicans have finally chosen their candidate in David Perdue. (Boos from the crowd.) Let me tell you a little bit about him, by sharing one of the first things that he said after the election.

“He said, ‘So who brings more value to the debate? Someone who has run a philanthropy for 15 years – or whatever. Or someone who has been out here’ – not bragging, he says – ‘competing in the real world.’”

Gentlemen, you and I may not have heard it, but most women will tell you there is a slight contained in that last paragraph. Perhaps even Karen Handel might. Nunn continued by defining her audience – women (and others) who have been the uncredited, often overlooked seamstresses of our social fabric:

“So let me tell you about the real world that I’ve been in for the last 26 years here in Georgia. It’s the real world of public school classrooms, where teachers and volunteers are fighting for equality for all of our children. The real world is seniors who depend up on meals to be delivered to them to make sure they can live with dignity and independence.

“The real world of neighbors and communities rebuilding in the wake of natural disasters after they’ve lost all their earthly belongings. This is the real world that I have found, and I believe that there is nobility in helping others….”

And then there was the hammer:

“Now let me tell you a little bit about David Perdue’s real world.

“Mr. Perdue is a man who has managed to make a lot of money in business. And we applaud success. But for some reason, those who worked with him…didn’t come out nearly as well.

“In our neighboring state of North Carolina, my opponent managed to make millions of dollars for less than a year’s worth of work, but almost 8,000 people lost their jobs when the company went bankrupt….

“Under his watch, one of his companies was investigated by the federal government for discriminating against women. And his firm was forced to pay, to more than 2,000 female employees, more than $20 million for not paying them equally and not treating them equally.

“Too often, Mr. Perdue seems to have prospered while those who worked with him suffered. He’s a man who time after time put his own profit ahead of [others]. Sadly, David Perdue’s real world does not include us….”

“He complained of Washington as usual during the campaign, but within minutes of winning the election, he declared that this race would be about prosecuting this administration. Prosecute? That sounds an awful lot like Washington as usual.”

Overall, it was a solid performance, delivered when needed. Afterwards, I asked Nunn why she had waited so long to level a broadside at her GOP opponent. Her reply:

“We’ve had millions of advertising dollars against us. We know that it’s time to make sure that everybody knows that there’s a real contest here. And they’re going to see the difference between somebody who is a collaborator and who is focused on helping others, and making a difference by working together. That’s not his record.”

The “millions of dollars” in TV ads is primarily an attack from the the conservative Ending Spending Action Fund, which – among other things -- highlights a Nunn-run Points of Light connection to a charity that has ties to Hamas, the militant group now at war with Israel. So I asked Nunn about this. Said she:

“It’s an incredibly ridiculous accusation and it is very much what people are tired of in politics. It is preposterous to think that an organization that was founded by President George H.W. Bush and that is one of the most respected non-profits in the country, has been giving money to terrorists.”

One last thing to note: Neither Nunn nor Jason Carter, the Democratic candidate for governor who followed her, uttered the words “Barack" or "Obama.”

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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.