04/02/2014 06:17 pm ET Updated Apr 03, 2014

GOP Senate Candidate Criticizes Primary Challenger For Being Just A High School Grad

GOP Senate candidate and former Dollar General and Reebok CEO David Perdue (R) doesn't think much of his competition for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).

Specifically, Perdue called out former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) in January for having only graduated from high school. In a video cited by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Perdue referred to Handel's educational credentials as he touted his business background.

"I mean, there's a high school graduate in this race, OK?" Perdue said. "I'm sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex. There's only one candidate in this race that's ever lived outside the United States. How can you bring value to a debate about the economy unless you have any understanding about the free enterprise system and how -- what it takes to compete in the global economy?"

Handel's education arose as an issue when she ran for governor in 2010. She said she graduated from high school with a diploma and not with a GED. She has also spoken about how she was "a teenager who left a broken home and went out on my own."

Perdue's campaign spokesman Derrick Dickey doubled down on the candidate's remarks in statement to the AJC.

"David was simply making the case that he is the most qualified person in this race to help get our economy back on track so that we can start paying down the massive federal debt," Dickey said. "His comment was based on facts that are a matter of public record."

Perdue hasn't kept his disdain for the primary field a secret. In a campaign ad released in February, he likened his opponents to wailing babies.

In a statement, Handel Campaign Manager Corry Bliss replied, "It is disappointing that David would demean someone who -- by no fault of her own -- moved out of an abusive home at age 17, and with her own hard work and determination, is the embodiment of the American Dream."

"Karen is an example of how, with great perseverance and sheer will, the circumstances under which you grow up do not dictate your ability to succeed," he added. "While David boasts about all the time he spent living in Europe and Asia, and all of the millions of dollars he intends to spend on this race, this election is about who conservatives can relate to and trust to get results in the United States Senate."

Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) are also vying for the nomination.

HuffPollster, which combines all publicly available polling data, shows Perdue leading the Republican pack. Georgia's primary is set for May 20.



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