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Georgia lt. governor defends denying Delta perk

ATLANTA (AP) – The Georgia Republican who led the charge for pro-gun lawmakers to punish Delta Air Lines says they were defending the values of “ridiculed and belittled” conservatives.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle called Delta a “beloved bedrock” of Georgia’s economy in an opinion piece published Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But he said Delta’s decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association sent a clear message to conservatives that “we find your views deplorable.”

Cagle wrote: “We cannot continue to allow large companies to treat conservatives differently than other customers.”

GOP Gov. Nathan Deal has blamed election-year posturing for the Delta controversy. Deal is term-limited and Cagle is a leading Republican candidate to succeed him.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian insisted Friday “we are not taking sides” in the gun debate.