Ex-Rep. Deal ‘cautiously optimistic’ over vote lead

Former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) did several TV interviews in Atlanta Wednesday morning but stopped short of declaring victory over gubernatorial rival Karen Handel (R), who stayed out of the spotlight. 

"Obviously, it's nice to be in the lead," he told WSB-TV. "We are still cautiously optimistic."

Deal maintains a 2,487-vote advantage over Handel, according to the Georgia Secretary of State's office. There are still votes uncounted and military ballots are expected in by Friday, Deal noted.

During his appearance on WSB-TV, Deal was asked if ethics will be an issue during the campaign. Handel has accused him of being a "corrupt relic of Washington, D.C."

"It's not an issue, there is no factual basis for that," Deal said. "We don't think that that's going be a problem. I think that we will unify the Republican Party and we’ll move forward."

"We'll campaign on the issues," he added.

Handel stayed hunkered down Wednesday. She didn't do interviews and did not attend the GOP unity breakfast, where Deal called her a "worthy opponent" in her absence. 

Meanwhile, Democrat Roy Barnes also made the media rounds Wednesday.

He told Fox 5 Atlanta he was surprised at the GOP result. "I didn't expect it to be that close," he said.

Asked if he had a preference for his opponent, Barnes was noncommittal. "Not really," he said. 

In another interview, Barnes was asked about the tone of the upcoming campaign.

"I think that you can show differences without being mean," the former governor told WSB-TV. "Just because we have differences doesn't mean we have to call each other names."