Capitol Recap: Perdues pop up in prominent roles during tariff dispute


The tariff quarrel between the U.S. and China has generated lots of talk and more than its share of stock market volatility.

It’s also meant time in the spotlight for the Perdue family.

Threats aimed at Chinese steel and aluminum begat threats aimed at U.S. soybeans, nuts and peaches.

That made farmers jittery, and that’s where Sonny Perdue, the U.S. secretary of agriculture and former governor of Georgia, assumed the role of calming influence.

During a tour earlier this month of Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky, Perdue met with worried farmers, telling them that President Donald Trump would not allow them “to bear the brunt of any kind of trade retaliation efforts.”

That message mutated somewhat Monday during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, when Trump praised farmers while also acknowledging that they could be in for some pain.

“These are great patriots. They understand that they’re doing this for the country,” the president said. “And we’ll make it up to them. And in the end, they’re going to be much stronger than they are right now.”

The timetable? Well, that lacks certainty.

“We’ll take a little while to get there,” Trump said, “but it could be very quick, actually.”

There may have already been a breakthrough, according to another Perdue, Sonny’s cousin David, Georgia’s junior U.S. senator.

One of the best signs of that, he said, was Chinese President Xi Jinping’s public statement about lowering tariffs on imported cars.

“It’s still in an early stage, but it’s at the point now where they know we’re serious,” Perdue said. “Equal access is very important to us, a level playing field. And the tariffs have served to get them to sort of sit up and listen to what we’re saying.”

Adding dimension: Guns were guaranteed to become an issue in the 6th Congressional District race when Lucy McBath, a well-known advocate for gun control, entered the contest.

McBath — who decided to run shortly after the Parkland shootings — became an advocate after her teenage son Jordan Davis was shot to death in Jacksonville, Fla., following a quarrel over how loud the music was playing in his car.

But McBath wants voters to know she’s not a single-issue candidate, something she explained in an op-ed in Vanity Fair.

“My story doesn’t begin or even end with one subject,” McBath wrote. “I am passionate about access to women’s health care; as a two-time breast cancer survivor, I know how critical it is for women to have access to preventative care, including mammograms.”

Democrat gives Obamacare a shout-out:Health care is an issue of double importance to another Democratic candidate in the 6th District race, Bobby Kaple.

He just unveiled the first television ad in that contest, and it’s an ode to Obamacare.

The former television anchor tells the story of his twins, Camden and Alice, who were born prematurely.

“It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep them alive,” Kaple says in the ad. “Thank God for Obamacare.”

The two other Democratic candidates in the race who will face off against Kaple and McBath gave their views on health care at a recent forum organized by the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon.

Steven Griffin, a former policy coordinator at the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the government should expand health care coverage and lower costs by allowing Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate prices with drugmakers.

Businessman Kevin Abel agreed but also said he wants to see Medicaid expanded in every state. Georgia did not expand the federal-state medical program for the poor, disabled and elderly as part of Obamacare..

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, who will face one of the four in November, has supported Republican efforts to scrap Obamacare.

“Premiums are skyrocketing, and we’re seeing a complete collapse in choice of plans as well as physicians,” Handel said during a televised debate last summer. “The status quo is unacceptable.”

Trump’s a part of this one: After Handel won last year’s special election runoff, her opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, drew some criticism for not attacking President Donald Trump.

That won't happen to Abel.

The native of South Africa posted a message to Trump in video form this past week on Facebook and YouTube. He explains that he decided to run for Congress in part because of Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that shielded from deportation immigrants who were brought to this country as children. He also recounts his history, coming to America at age 14 and building a business that created jobs for others.

And then he says: “I’m Kevin Abel, and I approve this message, sir, because America was a better, more decent and kind place — before you.”

Numbers are down: A new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll seems to support for Abel’s tactic.

The poll of Southern voters, who were solidly behind Trump in the 2016 election, shows some slippage. Now, less than half of respondents, 48 percent, say they approve of the president’s performance, and 51 percent disapprove.

The poll included voters from Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— Former state Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson has endorsed Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon’s bid for secretary of state. Johnson’s support is another sign that McKoon, often a thorn in the side of the GOP leadership during his time in the Senate, has healed some of those wounds. He now claims endorsements from 21 fellow state senators.

— Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank dropped $2,500 into the campaign piggy bank of Republican Geoff Duncan, who is running for lieutenant governor. Meanwhile, Blank’s fellow co-founder of Home Depot, Bernie Marcus, is backing state Sen. David Shafer in the same race. The other candidate in the GOP primary is former state Sen. Rick Jeffares.

Blank has frequently opened up his wallet for Democrats, so it’s a bit odd that he’s chosen to invest in a GOP contest.

But here may be an odder addition to the world of strange bedfellows: Duncan, a former pitcher for Georgia Tech, has also won the support of GOP activist Barbara Dooley, the wife of former UGA football coach Vince Dooley.

— Educators First, which has ties to conservative leaders, announced that it is backing Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s bid to become governor. The group has about 5,000 members.

— Ken Hodges may be best known for once running as a Democrat to become Georgia’s attorney general. But he’s lining up some big Republican names in his bid to join the Georgia Court of Appeals. Former U.S. Reps. Bob Barr and Jack Kingston are backers, as is U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. And former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss is chairman of Hodges’ campaign. Hodges’ opponent is Ken Shigley, a former president of the State Bar of Georgia.


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