The 30-year-old former congressional staffer is playing defense after TV ads revealed his lack of national security experience.
Jon Ossoff, the 30-year-old Democrat hoping to win a seat representing Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, is playing defense following effective messaging that pokes holes in his national security resume.
After facing ads that question his ties to Al Jazeera (he worked with the company that “aired videos of Osama bin Laden justifying the 9-11 attacks” in the early 2000s) and accuse the young, former Hill staffer of inflating his resume (he touted a high-level national security clearance that he held for all of five months), CNN described Ossoff as “on his heels.”
At just 30 years old, Ossoff has made for a ripe target. He began the campaign touting his high-level national security clearance — though he has backed off his emphasis on the clearance after reports that he only held it for five months before leaving Rep. Hank Johnson’s staff. It’s led to endless attacks from Republicans who accuse Ossoff of inflating his resume.
His time leading a documentary filmmaking company has come under scrutiny, too — in part for its work with Al Jazeera, the Qatari-based media network that some conservatives have cast as aligned with terrorists, even though it is among the largest media networks in the world and has been praised by Western leaders for its coverage of the Arab Spring and other major stories.
“This is a 30-year-old kid who can’t be trusted to keep us safe,” Congressional Leadership Fund’s executive director, Corry Bliss, told CNN. “We live in serious times, and we need adult leadership, not a 30-year-old kid who has repeatedly been dishonest about his record.”
Ossoff is defiant, though. In an ad pushing back on the criticisms against him, he claims he “sent a team to the front lines against ISIS…” (he’s referring to a camera crew), and he claims he “strengthened national defense” as an aide to Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).
A poll released Tuesday found the race between Ossoff and his Republican opponent, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, a dead heat at 47 percent each. The runoff date is June 20.
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