The eyes of the nation may be closely watching Georgia's 6th District right now, but Democrat Jon Ossoff insists that fact isn't high on his mind with less than 36 hours until polls close.
Instead, the 3o-year-old political newcomer said he's focused on what the locals are looking for in this three-county stretch of the north Atlanta suburbs that will decide his fate tomorrow in the special election to replace health Secretary Tom Price. To him, they're looking for fresh leadership, government accountability and a plan to bolster the economy.
Ossoff mentioned those points over and over and over again -- more than half a dozen times -- as he was being questioned by dozens of members of the local and national media during an afternoon campaign stop in Chamblee on Monday. And he indicated he would be sticking to that message during his final hours on the trail.
"Folks here in Georgia want fresh leadership that’s committed to delivering a higher quality of life here at home, growing our local economy, focusing on accountability in Washington with this atmosphere of gridlock, chaos and scandal in D.C.," said Ossoff, responding to a question about the message tomorrow's vote would send to the nation and the world. "More than ever we need a fresh voice that’s committed to getting things done and not getting mired in that gridlock.”
He offered very similar responses to questions about negative campaign ads, Nancy Pelosi and his own thoughts as voters prepare to hit the polls.
The outsized importance of Ossoff's special election battle with Republican Karen Handel was apparent by the number of people that packed the Democrat's Chamblee headquarters. Dozens of fired-up volunteers crowded into the biggest room in the house to get instructions on which voters to canvass this afternoon and how to frame their pitch. They chanted "Flip the 6th! Flip the 6th!” as Ossoff wrapped up a short stump speech.
Easily matching that crowd was the number of reporters, photographers and camera crews present, some from as far away as the United Kingdom.
As he has been doing in the past several weeks, Ossoff avoided discussing President Donald Trump, who on Monday urged his 32.6 million Twitter followers to support Handel, or the tens of millions of outside money that's flowed into the race during his remarks to the volunteers and to reporters. And he called for political civility when questioned about whether last week's ball field shooting in a Washington, D.C. suburb could have an impact on the race.
“You know, I can’t even think about the politics of a tragedy like that," Ossoff said. "It’s an event that has united Democrats and Republicans and we need to be focused on appealing for calm and civility and recognizing that ultimately we’re one people even if we have intense differences of opinion.”
He did not echo the criticism that other Democrats have lobbed toward Brad Carver, the local Republican official who was quoted in The Washington Post saying the shooting’s aftermath is “going to win the election for us.”
At a campaign event a few miles to the east, Handel labeled attempts to politicize the ambush of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and other GOP legislators during a baseball practice as “offensive.”
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