Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is running to fill the congressional seat vacated by Tom Price earlier this year, avoided answering a question Monday about his exaggerated national security credentials when given the opportunity to clear up his record.
MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell asked Ossoff during an interview to clarify the confusion surrounding his national security credentials. Mitchell's question was prompted by a Washington Post fact check published Monday, which gave Ossoff's repeated claim that he has "five years of experience as a national security staffer in the U.S. Congress" with top-secret security clearance one pinocchio, calling the talking point "a bit too much resume puffery."
"You did have a little trouble with Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post today saying that one of your campaign ads is misleading in that you talk about a top-secret security clearance, you were a congressional aide for five years," Mitchell said to Ossoff. "Are you trying to exaggerate your national security credentials?"
"No, I mean, politics is a contact sport, and I expect to take some hits," Ossoff quickly responded before pivoting to what he wants to do for Georgia's sixth district.
"If there’s any doubt about how winnable this race is, the fact that super PACs from Washington are coming down and spending millions of dollars on partisan smears is an indication of just how winnable it is," he continued. "I'm staying focused on an economic message about bringing more high-tech jobs to the community, standing up for American values that unite people rather than dividing us, and holding Washington accountable, and whether that means holding the White House accountable, or holding Democrats or Republicans in Congress accountable."
Ossoff claims to have spent five years working on national security issues for Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.), who once compared Jewish Israeli settlers to termites, but he only spent two and a half of those years as a full-time legislative assistant working on policy. Ossoff was a college student working part time for the first half of that period and would likely have not had a security clearance until 2009, when he graduated and took on a more substantive role, the Washington Free Beacon recently reported.
Ossoff's campaign then last week provided the Atlanta Journal-Constitution with a timeline of his time working in Congress, which showed he worked for just over two years as an aide, and only received a security clearance five months before finishing the job.
The congressional candidate's dodge on Monday prompted a critical response from Joe Pounder, president of America Rising, LLC, who said that Ossoff made "no effort" to answer Mitchell's question.
— Joe Pounder (@PounderFile) April 3, 2017