— -- Never before has so much of the national electoral narrative rested on the shoulders of two suburban candidates for one of 435 seats in the U.S. House.
But when the former Georgia secretary of state who flopped in bids for the Senate in 2012 and governor in 2014 and a 30-year-old former Congressional staffer who makes documentaries came face-to-face on the debate stage on Tuesday night, it was clear that Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff knew their race means so much more than just one seat on the floor of the U.S. House.
This election in northern Atlanta, just two weeks away, is largely seen as a gauge of anti-Trump motivation and a signal for a potential Democratic wave coming in 2018. Here are the highlights from this Georgia 6th Congressional district debate, which aired on ABC News affiliate WSB-TV and moderated by Channel 2 Action News Anchor Justin Farmer:
HANDEL TO TRUMP: TIME TO CUT BACK THE TWEETING
"I think I would really like to recommend some Twitter policy changes," said Handel, when asked where she disagreed with what President Trump had done in office so far. "Sometimes you should just put down the computer, the phone and walk away." She added that she was also troubled by some of Trump's proposed budget cuts to research.
LIBERALS POUNCE ON HANDEL'S ANSWER TO MINIMUM WAGE QUESTION
One comment from Handel on the minimum wage is raising some eyebrows on the left tonight. After Ossoff said he supported raising the minimum wage so that it was also a "living wage," Karen Handel said "This is an example of a fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative. I do not support a livable wage.”
OSSOFF ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH TRUMP
"I don't think that I will get a congratulatory tweet from the president if I win," Ossoff said on stage, adding that he would like to work with the president to find common ground if elected. Handel received a congratulatory call from Trump after taking second place in the jungle primary in April.
ATTACKS OVER OUTSIDE MONEY
Both candidates have been bolstered by big outside money in what has become the most expensive House race in U.S. history. But neither candidate wanted to own that on the tonight's stage. Ossoff said Handel's "campaign has been bailed out by these special interests." Handel attacked Ossoff by saying "your values are some 3,000 miles away in San Francisco."
BATTLE OVER HEALTHCARE
Ossoff went on the attack against the GOP health care bill tonight, saying it "would gut protections for pre-existing conditions." Handel defended it by saying her premiums had personally skyrocketed on Obamacare exchanges and "I reject the premise of CBO" score.