David Perdue, the U.S. Senate candidate whose best-known ad depicts his opponents with governmental experience — his fellow Republicans — as crying babies and who uses the Twitter hashtag #outsider, promises to limit himself to two terms if elected.
Perdue's campaign bus visited Statesboro's Market District commercial subdivision Thursday afternoon, and he spoke to reporters during a stop at the State Farm insurance agency on Brampton Avenue. The Glynn County resident, 64, has been CEO of Reebok and Dollar General and is now a partner with his cousin, former Gov. Sonny Perdue, in a company involved in trucking and international trade.
But unlike his cousin, David Perdue has held no elected office and makes that his selling point. So a natural question is how would he remain an outsider if elected.
"The first thing is that I believe in term limits," Perdue said. "I think one of the problems is we have too many people who are trying to build careers in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. I'm not going to build a career. In fact I support term limits, two in the Senate, three in the House."
House terms are two years, so he means to limit representatives to six years total service. Senate terms are six years, so the limit he proposes would be a total of 12 years.
This, he said, should prevent members from losing their outsider freshness.
"If fact, I think the founders actually assumed that we would have citizen legislators, people would go up, try to solve the problem of the day and then go home," Perdue said, "and what that does is that keeps fresh thought coming to Washington instead of people getting engrained there."
Of course, there is no certainty that such limits will ever become law. So would he term-limit himself?
"Absolutely, I've said that for the past year, no question," Perdue said. "Two terms, absolutely."
Another question is how Perdue, as an outsider with no legislative experience, can accomplish things in the Senate.
"Yeah, I mean here's the issue," Perdue said. "There are only about 10 people in the U.S. Senate who have a business background, and yet the crisis of the day is the debt crisis, the economy and jobs. We've got to get America working again, just like we did back in the '80s, and I think my business background will allow me to lead and be a partner in trying to set a new direction and get the federal government away from trying to manage the economy."
The first thing Perdue said he would address on arriving in the Senate would be to look at repealing a tax on profits made by U.S. companies that are "trapped" overseas.
"We're the only country that has a repatriation tax on profits made outside the country, and it's onerous, it creates such an unlevel playing field," he said. "We could eliminate that and it would create such a big boom. There are about a couple of trillion dollars sitting in foreign banks of U.S. profits that I believe we could interject into the economy right away."
Perdue was chief executive officer or Dollar General from 2003 to July 2007, overseeing the Nashville, Tennessee-based company's expansion from 5,900 to 8,500 stores. Earlier, he was CEO of Reebok, the international shoe manufacturer which has since become part of Adidas Group.
David Perdue and Sonny Perdue founded Perdue Partners in 2011. Besides doing business consulting, the firm forms capital and identifies businesses for investment, said campaign spokesman Derrick Dickey. Perdue Partners owns Benton Express, an Atlanta-based trucking company with more than 500 employees, and is involved in exporting U.S. products, including shelf-stable milk, to Asia.
Perdue was also, for less than a year, in charge of Pillowtex, a North Carolina-headquartered textile firm that went bankrupt. One of his opponents in the Republican primary race for Senate, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, has made a point of Pillowtex's failure in attacking Perdue's business record. But in the most recent debate, Perdue noted that he was hired when Pillowtex was already in trouble as a part of an effort to save it.
Other Republican candidates vying for the Senate nomination in Tuesday's primary include former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, patent attorney Art Gardner, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, and conservative activist Derrick Grayson.
The winner of the primary — or of a July 22 runoff — will face the Democratic winner in the Nov. 4 general election.
The Democratic field includes former Points of Light Foundation CEO Michelle Nunn, the frontrunner according to polls, along with former state senator and TV journalist Steen Miles, psychiatrist Dr. Branko Radulovacki, and ROTC instructor and former Army Ranger Todd Robinson.
A number of polls have shown Perdue in the lead among the Republicans, with variously Kingston or Handel in second place, and percentages that make a runoff likely.
Perdue sounds like other Republican candidates on several issues. He said he wants to see the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, repealed and replaced. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is another law he asserts should be repealed.
Perdue also said the Common Core State Standards should also be abandoned as "another overreaching federal attempt to get in and control education." However, supporters of the standards for kindergarten through high school point out that they were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and not by the federal government.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.