Politics

Full Transcript: Interview With Sen. Kelly Loeffler

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler speaks alongside Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, right, and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler speaks alongside Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, right, and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher.
Credit Emma Hurt / WABE
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See the full article about the race shaping up between Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins here. 

Our interview with Collins can also be found here

Emma Hurt: How does it feel to be in the middle of this intra-Republican fight as soon as you’ve started in politics?

Kelly Loeffler: Well, there’s certainly a lot of dynamics around it. But I can tell you, I am completely focused on working for Georgia and running a positive campaign. I’m really proud of the effort that we have underway and the response. There’s been a great grassroots response as well as folks that are looking at the party again. I’m working hard to grow our party. And, you know, it’s keeping me very busy working between the Senate and the campaign. But I’m energized and so pleased that it’s going this well.

EH: You’re being attacked by [your Republican opponent] Rep. Doug Collins right now for spending your own money on lots of things, like a private jet for example. I wonder how you respond to that broad attack?

KL: Well, it’s not surprising to be attacked for success. But it’s sad because I have achieved success in life, but it’s so far from where I started. And I’m really not focused on those attacks because I’ve lived the American dream and I’m working hard to preserve and protect that for others who deserve the same chance. I grew up on a farm working in the fields, waitressed my way through school and then moved around the country seeking jobs and then grew to become a job creator. And, you know, this is what I want for all Americans. I’m here fighting for freedom, fighting against socialism. And that’s my sole focus. So I’m staying positive. And I know that the investments I’m making in my campaign are also investments in freedom.

EH: I’ve heard comparisons of you to Mayor Mike Bloomberg, meaning, putting it bluntly, that you’re buying your way into this, buying your endorsements. How do you respond to that?

KL: Look, I put my application in because I felt called to serve in public office to give back what our country has given to me. I couldn’t be further from someone like Mike Bloomberg, obviously. I have a great deal of work to do for Georgia. I’m doing it every day in the Senate. People can see by my votes, by the efforts I’ve made, supporting the funding that we need here for the Savannah Port, the work that’s getting done around Georgia and in terms of my campaign being out every day, seeing people. I’m working hard to earn this seat. And I’m going to be honored to serve Georgians as the first woman elected to the Senate ever in our history of the state when that time comes.

EH: In that vein, specifically the Georgia Life Alliance’s endorsement you’ve received has gotten some attention, as has the Susan B. Anthony List endorsement. Have you or any groups you, your husband [Jeffrey Sprecher] or [his company and your former employer] Intercontinental Exchange Inc. are associated with donated to those groups to garner support for you?

KL: Those are independent efforts. No involvement other than I can tell you I’m strongly pro-life and working hard to make sure that I advance that in Washington. And, you know, my focus is really on running my campaign in a way that is positive and inclusive of all Georgians that represents my conservative values. And I think that that’s what’s playing out.

EH: Rep. Doug Collins’ argument about why he’s running is to let the voters decide, to not just accept Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment at face value. How do you respond to that?

KL: Well, I was humbled to be appointed by the governor. And I’m so honored to be serving our state each day in Washington. Obviously, I came into this is knowing I would run a campaign and I’m doing just that. And it’s going very well. I could not have asked for a better team or more support, hundreds of grassroots supporters. And then there are the new folks that are coming into the party, I’m so honored by the support and am working hard to earn it every day. I’ll work hard to win the election and no matter how well I’m doing in the polls, I’m always going to run like I’m behind. So Georgians can rest assured, I’m working very hard for them in Washington and on the campaign.

EH: What new folks coming into the party are you referencing?

KL: We’re fortunate to be represented by so many great representatives in our party. I’d be the first female senator to run. I think a lot of people are inspired by that. I’ve heard that from men and women, from kids, younger Republicans. It’s been really positive, the reception to my campaign. People love that I’m an outsider. I think that’s another important way to grow the party, is to get people engaged and have them feel excitement that someone that has stepped out of the private sector, that has walked in their shoes, that has paid rent, had car payments, had student loans, is coming to Washington to say, look, we have to stop kicking the can on the problems that exist and let’s deal with them in real time. And stop playing politics. And so as an outsider, just like President Trump was, just like Sen. David Perdue, I’m coming to solve problems and to protect our freedom.

EH: One of the attacks you’ve been getting is that you’re “super swampy,” even though you just started in politics, because of the support you’ve gotten from Washington, D.C., establishment figures and groups like Sen. Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

KL: I don’t pay attention to that. Look, I’ve been honored to have the warm reception that I’ve gotten in Washington because there’s great folks there that have been there a long time that welcome outsiders. There are outsiders that are happy to have other outsiders there. And this is what I’m bringing is an outside perspective. I’ve been a job seeker. I’ve been a job creator. I’ve lived the American dream. I know the difference between freedom and socialism. And I know that socialism would destroy our country. It would raise taxes on the middle class, would take away our freedoms and destroy our health care system. So I think Georgians are thrilled to know that there’s someone there with an outside perspective that appreciates that the government is not the answer to every problem.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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