One-on-one with Democrat Jon Ossoff, leading candidate for Georg - CBS46 News


One-on-one with Democrat Jon Ossoff, leading candidate for Georgia's 6th district

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

According to most polls, 30-year-old Jon Ossoff has a commanding lead in the race to replace Tom Price in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. CBS46 special assignment reporter Mark Pettit went one-on-one with the young candidate, who has a very big target on his back.

(MORE: One-on-one with Republican Karen Handel, leading candidate for Georgia's 6th district)

The attack ads are relentless and Ossoff is in the cross-hairs. He's gone from obscurity to front-runner in a matter of months, but not without taking some bruises.

Pettit: They've called you a "puppet for Nancy Pelosi" and compared you to Osama bin Laden. How do you feel about that?

Ossoff: Comparing me to Osama bin Laden is, frankly, despicable. I think these are the cynical assumptions of Washington political operatives and it shows contempt for the voters of this district who want actual solutions and substantive campaign rather [than] more of the same garbage.

Ossoff is one of 18 candidates running for the 6th congressional seat and campaign contributions are pouring in.

Pettit: You've raised $8.3 million, 95 percent from outside the state of Georgia. Doesn't that kind of fuel the argument that Democrats are trying to buy the election?

Ossoff: Well, one of the most exciting things about the campaign is that the average contribution is $42. This is grassroots fundraising, small-dollar fundraising.

The Ossoff campaign says more than 200,000 people have made individual donations. It's all adding up to a big showdown in Georgia and what some are calling the national model for the "Trump Resistance" in America. Ossoff would be the first Democrat to hold the seat since the Jimmy Carter administration -- before Ossoff was even born.

(MORE: Jon Ossoff contributions double that of top 4 Republicans combined)

Ossoff is being hammered on a number of fronts, and one in particular.

Pettit: The primary point of the attack is that you've inflated your resume. So, let's talk about what it means to be a national security staffer. Exactly what does that mean and what specifically did you do?

Ossoff: Here are the facts. I served for five years as a congressional aide, specializing in defense and national security policy. I earned a top security clearance from the Department of Defense. I contributed to the drafting of legislation related to U.S. foreign policy, directly pertaining to U.S. national security that was passed by congress and signed by the president, and I stand by my record.

Another sensitive subject is the work Ossoff did as an investigative film producer. He confirms his work appeared on the TV network Al Jazeera, which some critics view as a propaganda network.

Pettit: Do you regret that your work appeared on Al Jazeera?

Ossoff: No. I take pride in my work.

Pettit: So no regrets?

Ossoff: None.

A lot is riding on this race and saddled on Ossoff's shoulders, and he's not afraid to take on the president directly.

Ossoff: There are many in this community who are concerned that the president may be reckless, that he may be dishonest, that he may not be competent, and frankly, I share those concerns.

Pettit: Do you think he's an embarrassment?

Ossoff: I think that he risks embarrassing us on the world's stage, and when he does, I'll hold him accountable for it.

Pettit: Part of your fundraising has been driven by the "Make Trump Furious" message. Do you think you're making Trump furious?

Ossoff: Well, I don't think I'll get a congratulatory tweet if I win.

Pettit: It's looking more and more like it'll be you and Karen Handel in the runoff. What do you think of her as a person and a public servant?

Ossoff: I don't know her well, but so far I've found her delightful when we've met on the campaign trail. Of course, we have significant differences of opinion on policy, which if there is a runoff, we'll have ample time to discuss in public.

Pettit: You find her delightful?

Ossoff: So far, she's been nothing but pleasant and polite to me.

Pettit: She called you a lightweight liberal.

Ossoff: Well, you know politics is a contact sport. I expect to take some hits. But I do like the contrast between the same old partisan nonsense and the kind of positive uplifting campaign that we're running, which presents a substantive vision for our local economy.

(MORE: CBS46 Fact Check: Ossoff versus the Congressional Leadership Fund)

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