Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff struggled through a brutal four minutes in Georgia’s special election debate Tuesday night after Republican Karen Handel called him out for not living in the district he is hoping to represent.
As part of the debate format, the candidates were given the opportunity to ask each other questions. Handel turned to Ossoff and asked him a question he couldn’t answer: who he was going to vote for in the special election. As someone who lives outside the district, Ossoff is unable to cast a vote for himself. It went downhill from there for Ossoff.
After a prolonged silence, Ossoff defended himself by saying he lives outside the district in order to support his fiance, a medical student at Emory University. He then attacked Handel for being born in Washington, D.C. and for asking about where he lives instead of the “questions of concern to the voters of the 6th District.”
“Actually, it is of concern to the voters of the 6th district that you do not live in our community. And while I was born in Washington, D.C., I didn’t get to pick where I was born but the fact is I’ve been in Georgia almost as long as you’ve even been alive,” Handel shot back. “You might live just five miles outside of the district but your values are nearly 3,000 miles away in San Francisco, and that’s why so many of your contributions have come from liberals from California, New York and Massachusetts. It’s why you’re supported by Nancy Pelosi, and folks it matters.”
“It’s no wonder that my opponent didn’t want to do the Atlanta press club debate — it was going to be aired on CNN where all folks from around the country, all of his liberal supporters were going to see it and the fake Jon Ossoff was going to collide with the real Jon Ossoff who is a Nancy Pelosi-backed liberal,” Handel concluded emphatically.
“One of the things I learned growing up in this community is that folks are concerned with the real issues that concern them: healthcare, education, jobs in this community and secretary Handel has a lot of partisan attacks that she’s launching but she hasn’t provided any explanation for how she’s going to serve the people of this community,” Ossoff replied.
“She’s a career politician who is dead set on imposing her own views on this community, whether it’s gutting protections for people who need protections from price increases if they have pre-existing conditions, whether its defunding life-saving breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, whether it’s endorsing a tax reform proposal before we even know what it’s impact on deficits and growth would be. What we need is an independent voice substantively focused on the issues of concern to this community, not a career politician who has run six times for five different offices.”
Handel appeared ready for Ossoff to make the debate about her record, as she ticked off a list of accomplishments while attacking Ossoff for not having “real experience.”
“My record is one of results — in the private sector and in public service. As chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners I was able to balance a budget without tax increases and Jon, I did that without a Republican majority, working with Democrats. As CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce I helped create tens of thousands of jobs with the economic development program,” Handel said.
“My opponent here, he just talks about it. He talks about cutting spending, I’ve actually done it, reducing the budget in the secretary of state’s office by nearly 20 percent. What we need is someone who knows how to get the job done, someone with real experience. What we don’t need is a career staffer who was a junior staffer for [Democratic congressman] Hank Johnson.”