Analyst says Kemp, Abrams did what they had to do in final debate ahead of next week’s election

ATLANTA — Georgia is just one week and one day away from choosing its governor, and the two main candidates faced off for the final time on Channel 2 Action News.

The latest poll shows Stacey Abrams trailing Gov. Brian Kemp, so she needed to be more aggressive in the debate. She was.

Kemp needed to be more on the defensive and not make any big mistakes. He met his requirements, too.

Channel 2 Action News hosted the final gubernatorial debate between Kemp and Abrams Sunday night, and it was marked more by substance and real policy issues than by drama and fireworks.

Both candidates waded into the issues like the economy and inflation — two topics at the very top of voter concerns.

“Americans are hurting right now because of a disastrous policy agenda by Joe Biden and the Democrats who have had complete control over Washington,” Kemp said.

“Georgia has some of the lowest wages in the nation, and because of that, we need a governor who’s going to use her power to focus on the cost that a governor can control,” Abrams said.


On abortion, Kemp said he didn’t want to “push the needle any further” but also said he couldn’t commit o saying he wouldn’t sign any more restrictive measures.

“I’m not going to say yes or no to any specific legislation without exactly seeing what exactly it’s doing,” Kemp said.

“Let’s be clear. He did not say he wouldn’t,” Abrams said.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot, who was also a panelist for Sunday’s debate, spoke with Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint on Monday about the debate.

He said recent polls show Abrams behind, so she needed to be more on the offensive.

“Stacey Abrams on the other hand, being behind in the polls, really needed to be very aggressive and she was,” Swint said.

Meanwhile, Swint said all Kemp had to do was not make any major gaffes or any major mistakes — basically, play defense all night.

“The tendency is to play defense and to be cautious and not make mistakes and not take chances, and I think you can say that was the approach,” Swint said.

The latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution/University of Georgia poll has Kemp up over Abrams by seven points – 51% to 44%.