David Perdue, who is running for Georgia governor in the 2022 election, speaks with the University of Georgia College Republicans on Feb. 2, 2022 in Athens, Georgia. Perdue and Burt Jones spoke at the College Republicans meeting about the upcoming election and their policies. (Photo/Julia Walkup, @julia_walkup_photo)

On Wednesday night the University of Georgia College Republicans hosted David Perdue, Georgia Governor candidate and former U.S. Senator, at Caldwell Hall. They were later joined by lieutenant governor candidate Burt Jones.

Scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., Josh Gregory, chairman of the College Republicans at UGA, announced that Perdue would be there shortly and instructed attendees to be prepared for a group photo upon his arrival, as he was in a hurry. 

Gregory said he was informed around 10 minutes prior to Perdue walking through the door that he could only stay 15 minutes because he had a fundraiser to attend. 

Gregory also announced that Jones would make an appearance following Perdue’s speech. 

Fliers advertising the event featured the name, title and portrait of Perdue with no mention of Jones, but each had their signs hung on a whiteboard at the front of the room. Gregory said the event was originally featuring only Perdue, but Jones’ team reached out a few days prior asking if he could join. 

Perdue walked into the room at 6:34 p.m. and spent his first minute or two posing for a group photo with those in attendance. After thanking students for attending, Perdue made reference to the numerical date, 2/2/22, and discussed the number two’s significance as a symbol of unity in the Bible. According to biblestudy.org, the number two is used in three different contexts: union, division and the verification of facts by witness. 

Following the idea of unity, Perdue thanked students for being conservative as young people and discussed how his many years working in the business world taught him that after college, when people have to “get a W2” and “start paying taxes” they get “smart in their beliefs.” 

“You better scream bloody murder,” Perdue said, “cancel culture today wants to put you out of business.” 

Perdue elaborated by saying it is not about hating the other side, then going on to address cancel culture and its impact on many public figures, giving Twitter’s banning of people like former president Donald Trump as an example. 

Trump was banned in January 2021 following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

At 6:42 p.m. Perdue left the room, ending his eight minute visit urging students to get involved and remember why they joined the UGACR, other than for the “attractive girls at the meeting.” 

“While we are disappointed he was only here for a short amount of time, we appreciate he was able to come out and speak to some excited members,” Gregory said. 

Shortly after Jones was introduced, he began sharing how he was a student at UGA from 1998 to 2003 and a walk-on UGA Football player before graduating and finding success in business. 

“I'm from a small town and those of you who are from small towns know that in order to get things done, you got to pull together as a community,” Jones said. 

Jones then spoke about his views on the HOPE scholarship and potential threats to it. 

“The HOPE scholarship was set up to reward those of you who did well in school, and it was set up to pay for a majority of your college education,” Jones said. “But through the years, the HOPE Scholarship has been outpaced as far as revenue compared to the tuition and fees that you're paying as students.” 

The Georgia lottery system, increased tuition costs and universities’ spending are what Jones said to be contributors to HOPE nearing bankruptcy.

The HOPE scholarship was started in 1993 and has been funded by the Georgia Lottery to provide tuition assistance to high-achieving Georgia residents seeking undergraduate degrees. 

A study done in 2016 reported that the scholarship would run out of money by 2028, an issue caused by high demand for tuition assistance from Georgia families and the large number of students eligible, according to an article by 11Alive.

Speaking after the event with The Red & Black, Jones said online betting is already happening everywhere and would be an “easy pickup” of $70 million to be used as a solution to replenish funding for HOPE and put into the lottery system. However, he went on to reiterate that the problem isn’t the revenue.

“You got a significant spending problem at the administrative and administration level of a lot of universities you know, and, and those that can be, that can be reined in, which would help you know, your student body,” Jones said. 

Jones also spoke about his views on law enforcement and crime, saying that people don’t want to enter law enforcement careers. He also said that Atlanta residents, particularly in Buckhead, no longer feel safe due to high crime in the city.

Jones also discussed Georgia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, applauding the state for remaining open. Jones said because of this, Georgia didn’t suffer as much economically as the states that closed businesses and schools down.

“I’m never going to be wanting to try to close down businesses and close down schools because of a fear. I think that, that people if they feel more comfortable wearing a mask, feel more comfortable getting a vaccine, they should to do that,” Jones said. 

Georgia has been criticized by public health experts for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was also found to have ignored experts’ advice when reopening the state in the spring of 2020, according to an investigation conducted by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

When asked about his work on the Heartbeat Bill and thoughts on taking the bill further, criminalizing abortion at the point of conception, Jones said, “I’ve always believed in it, you know,” then saying, “we had the most aggressive one in the country, at the time.” 

Passed in 2019 and struck down by a federal judge in 2020, the bill would’ve made it illegal to have an abortion once a heartbeat could be detected, at around 6 weeks into a pregnancy. 

Ending the event a little after 7 p.m., Jones remained in the room and hallway outside to take photos with people and answer questions, staying over 10 minutes after the event ended.