Jon Ossoff defended fellow Georgia Democratic Senate hopeful Raphael Warnock over a slew of controversial comments that include referring to police as thugs and bullies.
"We campaign together, and we're friends and we speak routinely, and we are running alongside one another as friends and as partners," Ossoff said during a Sunday evening MSNBC appearance. "Shame on [Republican senator] Kelly Loeffler for twisting the words of a man of God spoken at the pulpit to produce these nonsense, fear-mongering attack ads targeting Rev. Warnock."
Loeffler has criticized Warnock for a number of "radical" sermons the Democrat made as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Warnock said many police officers behave like thugs and bullies in 2015, argued that America must "repent for its worship of whiteness" in late 2016, and said that "nobody can serve God and the military" in 2011. Ossoff's defense of the speeches could alienate Georgia voters ahead of the state's January runoff elections—the Peach State is home to the fifth-largest active duty military population in the United States, according to a 2018 Department of Defense report.
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While Ossoff was quick to defend Warnock's sermons, he has repeatedly dodged questions regarding Warnock's longtime defense of anti-Semitic pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright's infamous 2003 "God Damn America" sermon. The speech—which Warnock called a "very fine sermon"—accused American officials of "inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color" and likened the United States to al Qaeda. Wright blamed "them Jews" after Barack Obama condemned the remarks.
"Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me," Wright said. "They will not let him talk to somebody who calls a spade a spade."
Warnock has also made a number of anti-Israel statements as a pastor. In one sermon, the Democrat said Israel shoots unarmed Palestinians "like birds of prey." Warnock also signed a letter likening Israel's actions in the West Bank to apartheid in South Africa. Ossoff has since called Warnock a "beloved friend and ally" of the Jewish community and a "friend of Israel."