Republicans challenge Tedra Cobb’s honesty, gun positions

Tedra Cobb, candidate for the Democratic nomination for New York’s 21st Congressional District, discusses the campaign in January. (Photo provided — Watertown Daily Times)

Tedra Cobb, the Democratic candidate running for Congress in New York’s 21st Congressional District, was slammed by Republicans after an apparently undercover video surfaced of her saying she thinks assault weapons should be banned, but she cannot say that.

The video was posted by the YouTube channel “Democratic Tracking” and was picked up on Tuesday by the Washington Free Beacon, a national conservative news site.

In the video, Cobb is discussing gun policy with a group of teens who are apparently volunteers. Cobb discusses an event she was at earlier that day.

“When I was at this thing today, the first table I was at, a woman asked, ‘What do you think about assault rifles?’ and I said, they should be banned,” Cobb said. “And I said … ‘I want you to know, Cindy, I cannot say that in public.’ And she said, ‘Well I want you to,’ and I said, ‘I won’t win.'”

Cobb did not make herself available to the Times for an interview, but her campaign did send her statement.

“I was meeting with some young people who were speaking about their very real fear of gun violence in their schools,” she wrote. “I told them the truth — that the inability of our political system to talk about issues and practical solutions without politics getting in the way is why Washington has not made any progress to protect them. Even on things we agree on — like universal background checks and prohibiting the mentally ill from getting a firearm.”

The video was published on July 9. According to the title of the video, it was recorded on May 18 of this year. During the course of the video Cobb mentions traveling to Jefferson County to participate in a parade, and on May 19 she did march in the Watertown Armed Forces Day parade.

The Free Beacon story drew immediate criticism of Cobb from the campaign of incumbent Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro and other Republicans.

“New video footage has exposed Tedra Cobb for lying to voters about her position on the Second Amendment,” wrote Chris Martin, regional press secretary of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “So much for that ‘no-lies’ pledge she signed less than a week ago.”

Martin was referring to an editorial from the Glens Falls Post-Star asking both Cobb and Stefanik to pledge not to lie during the campaign. Cobb responded in a letter to the editor.

“This is an easy commitment for me to make,” she wrote. “I will conduct the general election campaign in the same manner I conducted my primary campaign, with honesty and integrity.”

Cobb went on to ask for fact checking of both candidates.

“Having made the commitment you requested, I humbly request that The Post-Star hold me and the incumbent, should she also choose to honor your request, accountable to the promise to conduct an honest campaign,” she wrote.

The pledge was quickly turned into a bludgeon against her by various North Country Republicans, including Stefanik’s campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar and Franklin County Republican Chairman Ray Scollin.

Scollin, who lives in Saranac Lake, shared the story with the comment, “@TedraCobb misleading #NY21 gun owners. Secret plan to ban guns if elected. @NYGovCuomo SAFEAct is passed in the dead of night to circumvent voters. Now @TedraCobb wants to do same in DC.”

In the video, Cobb does not say she would support an assault weapon ban as a congressional representative. As the Free Beacon reported, she does have a number of gun reforms proposed already on her campaign website, but none mention a weapons ban.

In her statement, Cobb did not say she supported or opposed an assault weapons ban, saying she was focussed on other reforms that were more likely to pass.

“There are a lot of common-sense things we need to do right now to make our kids safer without getting stuck on a stalemate issue like an Assault Weapons B an (sic) that would not pass this Congress and would not get signed by this president,” she wrote. “It’s a moot point, and voters in the North Country know that. Let’s talk about the things where there is common ground, where we can make progress right now. Our kids deserve no less.”

Cobb’s campaign did not answer follow-up from the Times about how she felt about the meeting being videotaped, or whether she would vote for an assault weapon ban if it were introduced to Congress. Cobb received the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction during the Democratic primary, as did Patrick Nelson, who also ran in the primary. During the video, Cobb refers to advice she got from a Moms Demand Action volunteer apparently named Patricia Pleau.

“Tricia Pleau said, ‘Do not say you want an assault rifle ban, because you will not win,'” Cobb says.

Later in the video, Cobb jokes with the teens about being moderate Democrats, and some of the unidentified teens say they disagree with the approach taken by Democratic candidates who are further to the left, like Nelson.

Cobb criticizes the tone some Democrats use in talking to conservative voters.

“It’s just the constant, ‘You guys are stupid; you guys are stupid,’ It’s just ridiculous,” she said.

The 17-minute video can be viewed in full here: http://wdt.me/CobbAssaultWeapons.

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