Georgia Democrat rebuffs Trump: ‘I don’t have great personal admiration’ for him

Democratic House candidate Jon Ossoff said Monday that while he respects the presidency, he does not share those feelings for President Donald Trump.

“I have great respect for the office,” Ossoff told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, speaking on the eve of a closer-than-expected special election in Georgia. “I don’t have great personal admiration for the man himself.”

The 30-year-old political neophyte is running a surprisingly competitive bid to claim the House seat for Georgia’s predominantly conservative 6th Congressional District. The race is being widely interpreted as an early referendum of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans.

The seat has remained vacant since Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price stepped down from it to join Trump’s Cabinet.

Ossoff also expressed disappointment at what he described as continued divisive rhetoric from Trump since entering office. Ossoff said he had hoped the president would be able to unite the country following a bruising 2016 presidential campaign.

“It was one of the most divisive and destructive presidential races in U.S. history and I think that many have been hoping that the president will heal some of those wounds, show good faith and a more inclusive approach to governance,” Ossoff said. “So far, I don’t think he’s allayed those concerns among those who believe that that divisive approach to government is not recognized.”

Ossoff expressed a willingness to work with Trump on issues like infrastructure, which he said could positively affect voters in his district.

“I would be interested, for example, in working with him on an infrastructure bill that could deliver real solutions to Georgia so we can keep growing our local economy here,” he said. “I think there’s room to work across the aisle and I’ll work with anyone who has the best interest of this community at heart.”

Earlier Monday, Trump slammed the candidate as a “super Liberal.”

“The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressioal [sic] race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!” Trump tweeted Monday morning.

Trump tweeted again about the race Monday night, urging Georgia voters to cast a ballot for any of the Republicans running in the race: "With eleven Republican candidates running in Georgia (on Tuesday) for Congress, a runoff will be a win. Vote ‘R’ for lower taxes & safety!"