At Deal’s kickoff of his flyaround tour, he insisted he’s the GOP candidate with the better chance of beating Barnes in the November election. He said Handel’s attacks on his character have backfired and argued the campaign should be about “vision not vengeance.”
At a stop in Savannah, the Gainesville Republican took a swipe at the glitzy Palin event.
“I think people in the greater Savannah region are hopefully going to appreciate the fact that Nathan Deal is in Savannah at the airport and not at a four-star hotel in Buckhead,” he said.
On Sunday, former Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee headlined a rally for Deal at the Gainesville Civic Center. Huckabee won Georgia’s GOP presidential primary in 2008 with strong support from the state’s evangelical voters.
Palin’s endorsement in the primary campaign was widely credited with catapulting Handel into a first-place finish among seven GOP gubernatorial candidates. But Handel missed the mark of 50 percent plus one vote, triggering a runoff against Deal as the second-place finisher.
The Handel camp was betting Palin’s appearance at the 40-minute rally Monday would whip up enthusiasm and remind voters to turn out again Tuesday.
A poll released Sunday showed Handel and Deal in a tight race, with Handel leading Deal 47 percent to 42 percent and 11 percent of voters undecided. The survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of 625 likely voters, taken between Wednesday and Friday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was paid for by 13 daily newspapers across Georgia.
Palin said she and Handel have both been underestimated throughout their careers and have run as reformers.
Handel left home at age 17 after she says her alcoholic mother pointed a shotgun at her and has spoken openly about her struggle to earn a college degree. She left after earning only a few credits and went on to work in the White House for Marilyn Quayle, without earning a degree.