Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler gave a succinct, maskless message to the University of Georgia College Republicans on Wednesday night: The Republican Party needs diversity.
Loeffler said diversity referred to welcoming not only people of color into the conservative fold, but also those with perspectives that differ from mainstream conservatism.
“I think what we have to make sure that we do is welcome more people in the conservative movement. We will have no chance if we don't grow,” Loeffler said.
Retaining Republican control of Georgia is a top priority for Loeffler’s voter registration group, Greater Georgia. Loeffler launched Greater Georgia in response to Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight organization and other voter registration groups in Georgia.
The former U.S. senator said she hopes the organization will help grow the Republican turnout by encouraging diversity within the party and ramping up voter registration efforts. She maintained an unwavering belief that Georgia is still red.
“We can never take it for granted that we are a red state,” Loeffler said.
As a loyalist of former President Donald Trump, Loeffler attributed Trump’s loss of Georgia’s general election to voter fraud and supported Texas v. Pennsylvania, which sought to overturn the results of Georgia’s general election.
In a 2020 interview with the Associated Press, Attorney General William Barr said U.S. attorneys and the Federal Bureau of Investigation found no evidence of voter fraud on a scale that would have any effect on the outcome of the general election.
Loeffler attributed her own loss in the January runoff to a low Republican turnout and the efforts of voter registration groups to mobilize Democratic voters.
“In our January senate runoff, half a million people did not turn out to vote, the majority of whom were conservatives,” Loeffler said.
Vashton Smith, a junior studying business at UGA and member of College Republicans, said Loeffler’s loss could also be attributed to her refusal to acknowledge negative messaging about her campaign by brushing it off as fake news.
“Tonight kind of reminded me of why I didn’t like Kelly Loeffler,” Smith said.
Smith asked Loeffler a question about her role in the women’s basketball team Atlanta Dream’s partnerships with feminist organizations and her decision not to speak out against it as a conservative.
Loeffler responded that those were rumors that weren't true.
In 2018, while Loeffler was still co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, the Women's National Basketball Association partnered with Planned Parenthood for the “Take a Seat, Take a Stand” initiative, which sent a portion of ticket proceeds to several organizations, including Planned Parenthood.
“She wouldn't even address the issue. And I gave her an opportunity to explain herself now, months after it ended, after it shouldn't really matter and she still wouldn't address the situation,” Smith said.
Other members of the College Republicans expressed fewer reservations about Loeffler and were eager to meet her and connect with a prominent Georgia Republican.
“We’re glad that she wanted to come down to tell us about Greater Georgia,” said Mycah Feltman, a sophomore studying business at UGA and member of College Republicans. “And we hope she doesn’t quit her working trying to keep Georgia red.”
“Whether it's from a Democratic or Republican standpoint, meeting politicians, especially if that's what you want to go into for a living, is super cool,” said Madilyn Cox, a sophomore studying political science and social media director for College Republicans.
The Red & Black attempted to ask Loeffler questions during the question and answer portion of her discussion and were informed that she would take the questions after the event.
Loeffler left the event without taking questions from The Red & Black.