Touting his business experience and dismissing his opponent as a "career politician," Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue told the News he's better equipped to help the economy in Rockdale and the entire country.
A former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, Perdue is competing with U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston in the July 22 runoff for the Republican nomination in this fall's Senate race. The winner will face Democrat Michelle Nunn and Libertarian Amanda Swafford in the final election.
"What pulled me into this race is, I believe we have a full-blown economic and financial crisis," said Perdue, who has never run for office before. "The problem is, in the United States Senate, there are only about 20 people with real business experience. I'm [running] against the poster child of a career politician."
His two main agendas as senator would be instituting Congressional term limits and tackling the national "debt crisis."
"The Founding Fathers never imagined the rise of career politicians," Perdue said, saying the lack of term limits gives lobbyists and special interests too much influence over legislators. "It really does distort the priorities and sense of urgency."
As for the national debt, he focuses on "reducing spending and getting the economy going." He claimed there are 480 "redundant federal agencies" that are "low-hanging fruit" to cut spending on.
"Let's take the Department of Education as an example," Perdue said. It spends over $70 billion a year, he said, "and yet the results we're seeing are not acceptable. And this is not partisan. We're talking about both sides here."
As a businessman, he said, he views the Department of Education as a corporate division that is underperforming and should be "defunded" and fixed. More education spending decisions should be made at the local level, he said.
Like outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Perdue is a support of the "FairTax," a proposal to replace federal income and payroll taxes with a large flat sales tax on all goods and services. Admitting he knew little about the FairTax before the race, Perdue said he now believes it would help industries in places such as Rockdale.
The current tax code "has created an unlevel playing field for our manufacturers," he said. "We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world...It puts our manufacturers at a great disadvantage. I believe [the FairTax] can make a huge difference in our economy."
Perdue's platform includes strong support for gun ownership rights. But he declined to comment on Rockdale's ongoing Second Amendment controversy over a new state law allowing guns to be carried into unsecured government buildings.
"I'm a purist" on the Second Amendment, he said, noting the Founding Fathers placed gun rights immediately after the freedoms of speech and religion in the Bill of Rights. "I'm going to go up [to Washington] and fight for that."
"I'm proud to be from a state that has passed one of the most comprehensive gun bills in the country," he said, referring to Georgia's recent new gun laws. But he repeatedly declined to comment specifically about the guns in government buildings part of that package, calling it a "state issue" that it would be "irresponsible" for a federal office-seeker to comment on.
Asked about the U.S. response to the latest crisis in Iraq, where militants are attacking and seizing cities, Perdue expressed concern about the safety of U.S. personnel already there.
"We cannot let another Benghazi happen. We cannot let another Tehran happen," he said, referring to infamous attacks on U.S. embassies in Libya and Iran.
He said he supports placing U.S. military advisers in Iraq to gain first-hand knowledge of the situation, but not a full troop deployment. "The last thing we want is to get into a civil war" with no exit strategy, he said.
Asked for any other political thoughts, Perdue simply said, "Please remind everyone to vote," noting low voter turnout these days and the summertime runoff election date.