While Guy Millner was berating his opponent Tuesday for asking for parole for a convicted killer, a beaming Steve Forbes stood by waiting to talk about growth and opportunity.
A crowd of about 60 people at Daniel Field greeted Mr. Millner, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, and his guest Mr. Forbes, who made a bid earlier this year for the Republican nomination for president. The centerpiece of the Forbes campaign - pushing for a flat-rate income tax to replace the present system - still held appeal for Augustans like Gayla Manning, who brought out a pro-flat tax sign. Mr. Forbes autographed it, "Right On! Steve Forbes."
But Mr. Millner's mind was set on denouncing his Democratic opponent, Max Cleland, for writing to the parole board in 1983 on behalf of convicted killer Ronald Kinsman, who three years later killed again.
"I believe it indicates one of the reasons why he will not share a joint appearance with me, why he won't share a stage as we sit down together and talk about our views," said Mr. Millner, who has also been hammering Mr. Cleland for accepting only one debate. "He doesn't want Georgians to know he tried to get a convicted killer out of prison after having served only seven years out of two life sentences."
Mr. Cleland said he regretted writing the letter but was only passing along a request for a constituent and in fact, Mr. Kinsman was not released at that time but at another hearing six months later. To say he was responsible for the release "is a flat-out lie," said Cleland spokesman Tom Eisenhauer. He also pointed out that while running for governor in 1994, Mr. Millner advocated releasing nonviolent criminals, who Mr. Eisenhauer said were "drug dealers, drug users, burglars, robbers ..."
For his part, Mr. Forbes said it was right for Mr. Millner to focus on crime.
"Crime is obviously a major issue particularly when you consider the demographics means in the next six years you're going to have a huge cohort of young people. There will be, if we're not careful, a surge in violent crime again," Mr. Forbes said. "But they all relate to quality of life. Start with the tax issue, as Bob Dole and Jack Kemp are doing."
And while his bid may have failed, his tax message lives on in Mr. Dole's 15 percent tax cut and in Mr. Dole's selection of fellow supply-sider Jack Kemp as his running mate, Mr. Forbes said.
And when asked, Mr. Millner said he would support a flat tax, which is one of the reasons Mr. Forbes was stumping for him.
"Guy Millner understands the importance of reducing taxes, understands the importance of getting rid of the barriers that stand in the way of America truly moving ahead," Mr. Forbes said.
"He'll bring a perspective to Washington of someone who wants to do something, rather than be someone."
But, Mr. Cleland's campaign said, Mr. Millner's support of a flat tax shows exactly what kind of perspective he favors - helping the fellow rich.
"Everybody from Time to BusinessWeek to a former Kemp aide have said that a flat tax will drastically cut taxes on multi-millionaires like Guy Millner and raise 'em on the middle class, working parents, and probably explode the deficit," Mr. Eisenhauer said.