Fact-checking the flashpoints in the U.S. Senate race

U.S. Senate hopefuls Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn focused mainly on two key talking points during their Atlanta Press Club debate on Oct. 26. David Tulis/ for the AJC
U.S. Senate hopefuls Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn focused mainly on two key talking points during their Atlanta Press Club debate on Oct. 26. David Tulis/ for the AJC

With the two candidates seeking Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat in a deadlock, the Truth-O-Meter has been working hard to keep up with claims from both sides.

Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue have been sticking to the specific talking points they hope will push them over the 50 percent mark next week – and avoid a runoff early in the new year.

For Nunn, the focus is Perdue’s business record as an outsourcer of jobs. Perdue has zeroed in on Nunn’s shared beliefs with President Barack Obama.

Our checks revealed missing context in both of those claims:

NUNN  A RUBBER STAMP FOR OBAMA?

Perdue has claimed Obama "handpicked" Nunn as a candidate, implying that if elected, she will be a rubber stamp for the president.

Perdue's spokesman cited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the president's political arm, Organizing for Action, as proxies for the president's wishes. There is some evidence that Reid supports Nunn - though she repeatedly has said he specifically asked her not to run - and that OFA directed donors and money to Nunn’s campaign – the first such political effort for the group meant to be non-partisan.

It's clear the party would like Nunn to win - to help retain control of the Senate if nothing else. But there are several high-profile issues where Nunn has criticized the president or cited policy that differs from him and the national Democratic Party.

For instance, Nunn advocates for building the Keystone Pipeline without delay, pushes for restoring cuts to military budgets and has criticized Obama for delaying funding and authorization to deepen the Port of Savannah.

In other words, Nunn would be expected to vote against the president and party on some issues, given the political climate of Georgia, even if as a Democrat she would be welcomed into the Senate.

We rated the claim Half True.

PERDUE ONLY AN OUTSOURCER?

Nunn, who is on leave as the head of the nonprofit Points of Light Foundation, has steadily gone after Perdue’s business record as a former Fortune 500 executive.

She seemed to find the flashpoint when a 2005 deposition surfaced, with him saying he "spent most of my career" outsourcing.

"He would be the only senator who, from his own words, has built a career from outsourcing American jobs," Nunn said in the Oct. 7 debate. "That is not the experience we need in Washington."

It is accurate to claim that was Perdue's sworn statement. But the attack fails to account for his business record since 2005, which include adding about 19,000 part-time and full-time jobs during his time as CEO of Dollar General.

It also fails to acknowledge that Perdue managed and led companies in industries where jobs were being lost to both cheaper foreign production --- outsourcing --- as well as technological and business trends far outside his control.

We rated the claim Half True.

ELECTION DAY PRIMER

To read through all of our fact checks involving Nunn and Perdue before Tuesday’s election, please visit their profile pages on our web site: The Michelle Nunn File and The David Perdue File.