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EXCLUSIVE – With less than two months to go until Georgia’s primary, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for the first time in a campaign television commercial is targeting former Sen. David Perdue, who with the backing of former President Trump is challenging the conservative governor.
“Millionaire David Perdue got rich sending jobs to China,” the narrator in Kemp’s new ad claims.
The spot uses an old clip of Perdue, a former corporate chief executive officer before winning election to the Senate in 2014, saying, “I lived over there. I’ve been dealing with China for over 30 years,” and another clip from a Georgia Public Broadcasting interview where Perdue said, “We outsourced every single product that we sold in our stores.”
The narrator in the commercial, which was shared nationally first with Fox News on Wednesday, then charges “Perdue sent our jobs to China,” ahead of a clip of Trump saying “we have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us.”
“We have to stop David Perdue. He’s for himself, not Georgia,” the narrator argues.
The new ad will run statewide on TV and is part of an initial $4.2 million ad blitz, Kemp’s campaign told Fox News Digital.
While the attack on Perdue is a first in the governor’s campaign spots, the pro-Kemp Georgians First Leadership Fund ran similar themed TV commercials taking aim at the former senator in December and again last month. And the Kemp campaign also criticized Perdue over the outsourcing issue in statewide radio ads a month ago.
Four years ago, with the support of Trump, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to win the governorship.
But Kemp earned Trump’s ire starting in late 2020, after the governor certified Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in the presidential election, following multiple recounts of the vote. Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged the governor and other top Republican officials in the state to overturn the results, has repeatedly vowed to return to Georgia to campaign against Kemp. Trump for months urged Perdue to primary-challenge the governor, and late last year he endorsed Perdue a day after the former senator launched his bid.
Perdue’s move set up an epic GOP primary battle with Kemp in a onetime solidly red state that’s become a top general election battleground. Kemp is also facing primary challenges from a couple of other lesser-known candidates. The winner of the May 24 primary will face off in November’s general election against Abrams, the former state Democratic legislative leader and nationally known voting rights activists who faces no opposition in her party’s primary.
Perdue’s campaign has hit back against the charges of outsourcing jobs, last month accusing Kemp of “using recycled lies from Democrats” and that “it shocks no one that a guy who sided with Democrats over President Trump is now telling lies about a Trump-endorsed candidate.”
Talk of taking a muscular approach to U.S.-Chinese relations and curbing Beijing’s influence is a message most Republican voters want to hear, and many GOP candidates running in the 2022 cycle are spotlighting the issue in their ads, either vowing that they’ll be tough on China or criticizing their rivals for cozying up to Beijing.
The new spot by the Kemp campaign is the latest in an increasing expensive ad war in the state’s GOP gubernatorial clash. Georgia Action Fund, a pro-Perdue outside group, earlier this week launched a seven-figure ad blitz targeting the governor.
Perdue on Tuesday was joined on the campaign trail by former House Speaker and former congressman from Georgia Newt Gingrich.
The multiple stops with Gingrich came three days after Perdue spoke and joined the former president at the podium at a large Trump rally in Commerce.
Perdue trails Kemp in two key campaign metrics – fundraising and polling.
Kemp leads Perdue in the latest public opinion surveys, including a Fox News poll conducted March 2-6 that indicated Kemp led Perdue by 11 points among Republicans likely to vote in the May 24 primary.