- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - Inside an Atlanta eatery steeped in civil rights history, former President Bill Clinton told a crowd filled with dignitaries and campaign workers that a vote for Democrat Michelle Nunn in Georgia’s key Senate race is a “vote on the promise of our future.”

Clinton, looking to rally support on the final day of early voting, blasted Nunn’s Republican rival David Perdue as a “guy who wants you to vote in anger.” Clinton went on to describe the political rhetoric in Georgia as “poisonous,” adding Perdue wasn’t interested in talking about the issues.

“It’s a clever scam,” Clinton said. “(Perdue says), ‘Let’s just put the president on the ballot. This is your last chance to vote against him. You know you want to.’”

Georgia has become a major battleground in the fight for control of the Senate, with Democrats seeing Nunn as one of their best chances nationally to pick up a seat and thwart GOP plans to claim a majority for the last two years of President Barack Obama’s term.

Perdue spokeswoman Megan Whittemore argued that Obama has said himself his policies are on the ballot and Nunn was needed to help him finish what he started.

“No matter what Michelle Nunn or her surrogates say, she is directly tied to Obama’s failed policies,” Whittemore said. “While Michelle Nunn is willing to say or do anything to get elected, she has failed to offer any real solutions of her own on the issues that matter most to Georgians.”

Perdue spent Friday traveling across south Georgia, a key area as he looks to boost Republican support ahead of Tuesday’s election. Joining him was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a popular figure among state Republicans who won Georgia during the 2008 presidential primary season.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s trip to Paschal’s Restaurant, an early meeting place for those in the civil rights movement, was a homecoming of sorts. It’s the same restaurant he visited during his 1996 run for re-election and where his wife, Hillary, received a key endorsement from Rep. John Lewis during her White House bid in 2008.

Among those civil rights icons attending Friday’s rally were Lewis, former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and the Rev. Joseph Lowery. Many in the crowd heaped praise on Clinton for increasing economic prosperity during his time as president.

“Bill Clinton is a great communicator and he had a great record when he was in office,” said Mary Lou Romaine-Waymer with the UFCW Local 1996. “The economy was good and he made changes for the average, working-class person.”

In his remarks, Clinton praised Nunn for her life of service. Nunn has spent her career leading nonprofits, most recently as CEO of Points of Light, a volunteer organization founded by former President George H.W. Bush.

“I’m telling you, Michelle Nunn is what the whole country needs. It’s what Georgia needs,” Clinton said as Nunn looked on. “Because of the life that Michelle Nunn has led, you can send a message . that we can only grow together if we treat each other with respect and we work together.”

Nunn, who has crafted her campaign around a pledge of bipartisanship and problem-solving, called Clinton a “transformational figure” and praised him as “someone who knows about finding common ground, someone who knows about building coalitions.”

Also rallying the crowd was Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who said Democrats were winning the early vote and warned supporters to keep fighting through Election Day.

“It’s right here in front of us, Democrats. All we have to do right now is believe,” Reed said. “The numbers are there. We are voting like we’ve never voted before.”

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Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Christina.

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