ATLANTA — Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Perdue said Monday he's proud of his career, pushing back against critics who say the former CEO cared more about the bottom line than employees and arguing bad government policies — not outsourcing — are to blame for domestic job losses.
Perdue, who has been locked in a closely watched battle with Democrat Michelle Nunn, has been on the defensive since a 2005 court deposition surfaced late last week in which he talked about how he "spent most of my career" doing outsourcing and detailed reorganization plans for Pillowtex Corp., a troubled North Carolina textile company that closed down a short time after Perdue left as CEO.
The race for Georgia's open Senate seat has gained national attention as Republicans make a push to take control of the chamber, and Perdue's business record has been under constant scrutiny. Nunn, who is considered among the Democrats' best hopes nationally to pick up a seat this year, has repeatedly hammered Perdue with one of her first attack ads featuring former Pillowtex workers.
In the deposition, Perdue was asked how much of the company's reorganization strategy was to outsource all domestic production. Perdue said the owners felt like "certainly a majority would have to be sourced out," adding sourcing and marketing were the cornerstone of their reorganization plan, according to the deposition obtained by Politico.
Perdue said his critics misunderstood what outsourcing means. He said it's about how companies that do not make products themselves, such as Wal-Mart and Dollar General, obtain those items and services from other companies and doesn't always mean moving jobs overseas.
"Defend it? I'm proud of it," Perdue said. "This is a form of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services that will help your business run. People do that all day. Retailers do it, manufacturers do it. The issue that people get confused about is the loss of jobs."
Perdue argued bad government policies on taxes and regulations have damaged industries, resulting in lost jobs, and said Nunn "doesn't really understand the free enterprise system."
Nunn campaign spokesman Nathan Click used Perdue's remarks to repeat the claim that Perdue made millions while people lost jobs.
Pillowtex had just emerged from bankruptcy when Perdue joined the company as CEO. He has said he found a previously undisclosed and unfunded pension liability soon after arriving that prompted the company's owners to sell. He left a short time later to join Dollar General as CEO.