published Monday, May 12th, 2014

Georgia Senate candidates square off

Democratic senatorial candidates Steen Miles, a former state lawmaker and broadcaster from Decatur, Ga.; Michelle Nunn, the former CEO of Points of Light, from Atlanta; Branko Radulovacki, a psychiatrist from Atlanta and Todd Anthony Robinson, an ROTC instructor from Columbus, Ga., participate in a debate at the Georgia Public Broadcasting studio on Sunday in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Democratic senatorial candidates Steen Miles, a former state lawmaker and broadcaster from Decatur, Ga.; Michelle Nunn, the former CEO of Points of Light, from Atlanta; Branko Radulovacki, a psychiatrist from Atlanta and Todd Anthony Robinson, an ROTC instructor from Columbus, Ga., participate in a debate at the Georgia Public Broadcasting studio on Sunday in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn brushed off criticism from her Democratic primary opponents during her first debate Sunday, defending her support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, Republican candidates vying for Georgia's open Senate seat also debated, sharpening their attacks against the two perceived front-runners with just over a week to go before the May 20 primaries.

On the Democratic side, Nunn has been running a centrist campaign, seeking to stay above the partisan fray and call for working with the GOP to get things done in Washington. The daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, a moderate Democrat who represented Georgia for years, she has launched TV ads focused on her career running a major nonprofit.

During the debate, one of her opponents, ROTC instructor Todd Anthony Robinson, of Columbus, noted Nunn's ads don't mention she's a Democrat and asked her whether she supports Obama.

"I think it's self-evident that since I am on the stage here that I am a Democrat," Nunn said, listing her support for increasing the minimum wage, immigration reform and pay equality. "I am absolutely in pursuit of the Democratic nomination, and at the same time I want to represent all of Georgia."

Nunn also defended her initial support for military action against Syria, but said she was pleased a diplomatic solution was found instead. She also noted she supported gun rights and said her 11-year-old child is a hunter. She said she supports legislation that would expand background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.

On the Keystone oil pipeline, Nunn said a federal study had concluded the "environmental impacts would be negligible" and the project would be important for jobs and energy independence. Former state lawmaker Steen Miles and physician Branko Radulovacki both said they opposed the project.

They also criticized Nunn for not appearing at previous debates and forums. Nunn's campaign has said scheduling conflicts prevented her attendance at those prior events. The debate was recorded and scheduled to air today at 7 p.m. on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The Republican debate was televised live.

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