Georgia hopefuls make their cases a final time before special election

Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff made their final pitches to voters Monday ahead of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District contest, as President Donald Trump waded further into the closely watched race.

Both candidates resisted questions about the broader implications of the special election to replace Tom Price as they crisscrossed the three-county district Monday.

But the race’s significance was virtually impossible to escape. Trump kicked off the day’s campaigning with a tweet urging his supporters to back Handel and reject the Democratic Party’s platform.

“The Dems want to stop tax cuts, good health care and Border Security. Their ObamaCare is dead with 100% increases in P’s,” Trump tweeted shortly before 8:30 a.m., referring to health care premiums. “Vote now for Karen H.” He posted two similar tweets later in the day.

The onslaught of national — and even international — attention that the race has received was hard to ignore during Handel’s and Ossoff’s campaign events, where dozens of reporters, photographers and television cameras elbowed for better views of the candidates.

For the most part, both Ossoff and Handel stuck to their scripts.

“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.,” Ossoff said during an event in Chamblee. “More than ever we need a fresh voice that’s committed to getting things done and not getting mired in that gridlock.”

Handel, meanwhile sought to appeal to her base, urging conservatives to head to the polls. She also took jabs at her opponent’s record-breaking fundraising haul.

“Not for nothing, a squirrel is going to get a pretty decent percentage of the vote if he has $30 million behind him,” Handel quipped during an appearance in Tucker.

Still unclear was how much last week’s shootings at an Alexandria, Va., ballfield targeting Republican lawmakers would affect the race. Both candidates faced threats in the ambush’s wake.

Handel and several neighbors received threatening letters with a white substance that the FBI later said was likely not hazardous. Ossoff said he had to hire a security detail amid escalating threats his campaign had received.

And both candidates strongly condemned an attack ad that surfaced Sunday that accused the “unhinged left” of endorsing violence against Republicans and showed footage of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise being wheeled away on a stretcher.

Handel called that type of attack “disgusting” and said it should be taken down, echoing Ossoff’s call on Sunday. As for the threatening letter she received, Handel said it made her “more determined than ever.”

“I will not be intimidated by anyone when it comes to what my beliefs are,” she said Monday. “And I take great offense to the fact that whoever did this targeted my neighbors and friends. That just speaks to the unhealthiness out there in the discourse in this country.”

Ossoff called for more civility in politics but made sure not to repeat the criticism that other Democrats have lobbed toward Brad Carver, the local Republican official who was quoted Monday in The Washington Post saying the shooting’s aftermath is “going to win the election for us.”

“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.”

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