Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) and Stacey Abrams (D) had one last debate to persuade Georgia voters still undecided about who to support in the governor’s race, and the pair used the platform to criticize one another on everything from abortion to guns, with Abrams also attacking Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R).
Roughly one week before Election Day, Abrams, a former Georgia state lawmaker, is behind the incumbent by an average of 7 to 8 points, according to FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, respectively.
Here are five takeaways from their final hourlong debate:
THE BATTLE OF RON AND DON: SIMMERING DESANTIS-TRUMP FEUD SET TO EXPLODE AFTER RALLY SNUB
Kemp and Abrams each appealed to the middle ground on abortion
With Democrats trying to leverage abortion access as a wedge issue this midterm election cycle, Kemp repeated that Georgia voters are permitted to disagree with his anti-abortion position. At the same time, Abrams reiterated she believed in limitations that took viability into account.
Alluding to Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” which was passed three years ago, Kemp described his 18-year-old anti-abortion stance as “honest and transparent.” But he avoided a question on whether he would endorse stricter measures, such as those adopted by Texas.
“It is not my desire to move the needle any further on this issue,” Kemp said. “I personally don’t see a need to go back. But when you’re governor, you have to deal with all kinds of legislative issues that are out there, so we’ll look at those when the time comes.”
Abrams seized on his equivocation, contending women are “in danger” as long as Kemp is governor and promising to repeal HB 481 if she replaced him.
“Brian Kemp does not have a plan for the lives of the women who are being forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies,” she said, calling late-term abortions “concerning.” “He refuses to defend us, and yet he defended Herschel Walker, saying that he didn’t want to be involved in the personal life of his running mate. But he doesn’t mind being involved in the personal lives and the personal medical choices of women in Georgia.”
Kemp dinged Abrams and Democrats on election integrity after 2018 contest
Kemp defended his state’s election laws after reports that almost 1.6 million Georgians have already voted, a record. He was adamant he would “absolutely” accept the outcome of the Nov. 8 contest before criticizing Abrams for her delay in doing the same after their 2018 race and national Democrats for scrutinizing his recent reforms.
“She’s benefited personally from that running around and scaring people about suppressing votes, suppressive legislation,” Kemp said of Abrams. “We had people from New York criticizing us about [SB 202]. We had President Biden criticizing us about this bill. … In Georgia, it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat, and I’m committed to keeping it that way.”
Abrams similarly defended her lawsuits against Kemp’s election laws, particularly over his so-called voter registration purges. She provided a one-word reply when asked whether she would accept the results next week: “Yes.”