Local issues take back seat during 6th District debate

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Local issues take back seat during 6th District debate

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Branden Camp
Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff prepare to debate ahead the June 20 runoff for the 6th Congressional District seat, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

National issues dominated Tuesday evening in the first head-to-head debate between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel in the closely-watched contest for Georgia’s 6th District congressional seat.

The duo tangled over many of the same big-ticket policy items that defined last year’s presidential contest, from terrorism to health care to campaign finance.

And as much as the candidates sought to carve out their own space, President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were never far from the foreground during the hour-long debate, which aired live on WSB-TV.

Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, repeatedly tied Ossoff to Pelosi and the most liberal factions of the Democratic Party. She mentioned the California Democrat, who became the first-ever female speaker of the House in 2007, more than 10 times during the debate.

A former congressional aide, Ossoff avoided discussing Pelosi and instead repeatedly framed himself as an “independent.” He pivoted to other issues such as investing in the tech sector and elevating American leadership on issues such as climate change.

And both avoided discussing Trump head-on unless asked about the commander-in-chief directly.

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