HAMPTON, GA-- Education was the topic when Governor Nathan Deal made a morning visit to a Henry County school Tuesday. It reliably arises whenever Deal and his Democratic opponent Jason Carter make campaign stops.
But then came a shift rooted in Middle East violence.
"The fight with Hamas is becoming an unusual topic in the governor's race..." began a newspaper reporter's question to Deal during his trip to the school.
That's a question for Deal rooted in former President Jimmy Carter's opinions about the Middle East, and Deal's desire to tie them to his grandson Jason.
"He's taking money that his grandfather is raising on one hand, then trying to disassociate himself from his grandfather on issues such as this," Deal said, noting that the former president has enthusiastically raised money for Jason Carter's campaign.
Hamas is backing a lethal, weeks-old battle with Israel. Israel and the United States call Hamas a terrorist group. Jimmy Carter wants tostart "recognizing (Hamas') legitimacy as a political actor."
Jason Carter's campaign says Deal is talking about Hamas to avoid talking about education and jobs and education and ethics. "Sen. Carter ... believes that Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas' terrorist actions," the campaign said in a statement.
"They've made it a connection," Deal said. "Unless he intends to give the (campaign) money that his grandfather is raising for him around the country, unless he intends to give it back, it is certainly an issue."