Several heavy-weight Republican politicians seeking some of Georgia's most important public offices were going "eyeball-to-eyeball and belly-to-belly" with voters Saturday afternoon in western Columbia County.
The gathering at the home of State Rep. Bill Jackson (R-Appling) on Dozier Road was held to honor Sonny Perdue. The state senator from Bonaire is seeking the Republican nomination to oppose Democrat Gov. Roy Barnes in November.
Also attending the old fashioned barbecue were U.S. Rep. Saxby Chambliss, who is seeking the Republican nomination to oppose U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, and state Rep. Mitchell Kaye, who is running for state school superintendent.
Perdue said an informal gathering like the one at Jackson's home is "the essence of campaigning. I call it 'eyeball-to-eyeball and belly-to-belly."'
Perdue, Chambliss and Kaye were lavish in their praise of each other.
"Nobody will make a finer governor of the state of Georgia than Sonny Perdue," Chambliss said.
The rain failed to dampen the spirits or the number of those attending, he said.
"That's the kind of enthusiasm Sonny's been seeing and I've been seeing," Chambliss said. "We've got such a great crowd out here."
Kaye called the gathering, which heard the Southern Bluegrass Band, "grass roots politicking at its best. ... It beats the 30-second sound bite."
Kay was accompanied by his son Jarod, 11, whom Kaye called his best campaigner.
Jackson said he always found barbecues and informal gatherings to be an effective way to meet voters.
"It's always successful to get people together," he said. "No matter who you are, somebody won't know you."
Prior to the barbecue dinner, the blessing was said by Dan White, the pastor of Shiloh United Methodist Church in Winfield.
A shelter where the band was set up had a fire in the fireplace to ward off the dampness and chill in the air.
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