One-on-one with Republican Karen Handel, leading candidate for G - CBS46 News


One-on-one with Republican Karen Handel, leading candidate for Georgia's 6th district

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

CBS46 special assignment reporter Mark Pettit went one-on-one with Karen Handel, one of the leading candidates in a large field of Republicans competing for Georgia's 6th Congressional District.

And she's no stranger to politics.

She came within 2,500 votes of being Georgia's first female governor. After leading the pack in the primary, she faltered and fell to Nathan Deal in the runoff.

Pettit: You were on top and then the runoff came and it fell apart. What do you think happened?

Handel: You know, look, unfortunately in this day and age, money is everything in campaigns.

Handel says she simply ran out of money and Deal ran off with the election. It could be the same story again. In the race against Jon Ossoff, Handel is seriously underfunded. But what she doesn't have in campaign contributions, she makes up for in campaign experience.

Pettit: You're known for having some sharp elbows in both politics and the private sector. For example, you called Jon Ossoff a 'lightweight liberal.'

Handel: Well, if the shoe fits, right? Who is this guy? Where did he come from? The people of the 6th know me, and they trust me.

"Trust me, we don't need another career politician up here. Dan is one of us," says Senator David Perdue in a campaign ad for Dan Mooney.

"He's not one of us," says another attack ad against Ossoff.

Pettit: Not one of us? Is that code for 'white guy?'

Handel: I don't know. You'd have to ask them.

Ossoff is having to take it too. Every other attack ad seems to say, "he's definitely not one of us."

Pettit: Are they attacking him because of his faith, and you because you're female?

Handel: Again, I have no idea.

Handel is trying to make a political comeback after taking a very public private sector fall. After losing the race for governor, she joined Susan Komen, the well-known breast cancer organization. Things blew up when Komen un-funded and then restored funding for Planned Parenthood, known for providing abortion services. 

Handel had pushed a change in Komen grants that would have eliminated all funding for Planned Parenthood.

Handel: Under intense pressure from the left, including liberal groups across the country, Komen was literally pummeled and bullied into submission.

Handel resigned and poured her energy into writing a book called Planned Bullyhood. In her memoir, she publicly revealed some very private information.

Pettit: I read in your book that you wanted to have a child and struggled with that. Has that hardened your position against abortion?

Handel: I think it made me more compassionate, frankly. Number one, for other families who have been in the situation like my husband and I. And more compassionate for the lives of the unborn.

Abortion is just one of the key issues in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, with the biggest being President Trump.

Pettit: What's your assessment of President Trump's first 100 days?

Handel: I think he's doing a good job. Look, this is a gentlemen that ran for public office and made very specific commitments and promises to the American people. And from Day 1, he has moved forward making good on those commitments.

The race in Georgia is being called the model for so-called "Trump Resistance" in America as Democrats fight to take back congress. 

Ossoff is the face of that movement.

(MORE: One-on-one with Democrat Jon Ossoff, leading candidate for Georgia's 6th district)

Pettit: Do you think Jon Ossoff is qualified to be in congress?

Handel: No.

Pettit: The knock on him is that he's inflating his resume, specifically around his national security experience. Do you think he's over-inflating his role?

Handel: It's been reported on. I'll let the votes make the decision on that, but I think it is a very thin background, and some of it is just face of youth. It's hard to build up the kind of experience that one needs to have the discernment that you need to have a member of congress.

Handel has raised less than $500,000. Ossoff has raised more than $8 million.

Pettit: 95 percent of that money is from outside the state. Do you think the Democrats are trying to buy this election?

Handel: I think they're trying to buy it for their guy, their puppet, and he will be owned, locked, stock and barrel, by those who put him there.

Pettit: When I asked Mr. Ossoff about you, he said, 'I found her to be delightful.' Was he being nice or naive?

Handel: I think that he and I have had very good exchanges personally, one-on-one. But just because a person is nice and delightful as he is doesn't mean he's qualified to be the next congressman from the 6th district.

Next Tuesday is a very big day for Handel in more ways than one. In addition to being Election Day, it's her birthday. It'll either be a birthday she'll never forget, or one that she might not want to remember. Either way, we'll have team coverage.

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