Ossoff downplays national implications of Georgia race

As polls opened for a highly anticipated congressional runoff election in Georgia Tuesday, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff demurred when asked by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota about the race’s national implications.

“The contrast in this district is between a career politician — my opponent, Karen Handel, who is notorious for cutting off funding for life-saving breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood — or a fresh voice who wants to work across the aisle to get things done, grow our local economy, (and) work to make health care more accessible and affordable for women and folks with pre-existing conditions,” he said on “New Day.”

Camerota pressed him on the broader impact of the local campaign, focusing on whether he saw his potential election in a traditionally red district as a referendum on President Donald Trump’s performance in office. When he kept his response locally-focused, she reminded him the race has garnered massive amounts of interest and money from people outside the state.

“Out-of-state money has poured in on both sides. It’s become a little bit of an arms race,” the Democrat admitted. “I’m proud of the fact that my campaign is powered by small-dollar grassroots fundraising of an average contribution of less than $50 while my opponent’s campaign has been bailed out by the same old special-interest super PACs peddling deception, fear-mongering and hate here in Georgia for months now.”

“You want to see this race as about you against Karen Handel,” Camerota pushed. “Understood. You’ve worked hard. But do you not see the national implications of this race, do you not think it’s at all a referendum on Donald Trump?”

Ossoff again said he will “do the best job possible representing the people of Georgia’s sixth district,” so Camerota moved on to asking about a recent ad from “a right-wing PAC” that linked him to the recent shooting at a Congressional Baseball Game practice for GOP congressmen that left Republican House Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition.

“What can you even say?” Ossoff said. “The man is fighting for his life. It’s got no place in a political attack ad. This is exactly what Americans are sick and tired of. It’s exactly why the folks in DC have clearly lost the plot, clearly don’t understand what people care about, don’t understand that most people out there — most people down here in the real world — want unity, want a commitment to getting things done that improves life for them.”

Camerota followed up by asking him how he’d promote that sort of unity. Ossoff responded that if he wins, the people of Georgia will prove that Americans want to work together to elect people who will serve their interests. He moved on to the subject of health care, condemning congressional officials for acting in their own partisan interests.

To close out the segment, Camerota congratulated Ossoff on his recent engagement, then jokingly took credit for “badgering” him into proposing to fiancée Alisha Kramer.

Handel had also been invited on “New Day” but declined to appear.

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