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Cobb campaign swings through Plattsburgh

Congressional candidate Tedra Cobb, left, speaks with supporter Lauren Johannes-Mihalek during a campaign stop in Plattsburgh Saturday. Cobb, a former St. Lawrence County legislator and Democrat from Canton, is looking to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville. (Provided photo — Cara Chapman, Press-Republican)

PLATTSBURGH — Congressional candidate Tedra Cobb met supporters in Plattsburgh Saturday during one of seven planned campaign stops around the North Country over the weekend, and didn’t mince words about her opponent.

Supporters stationed in a parking lot on U.S. Route 9 just past Plattsburgh RV Park Road handed out lawn signs for Cobb and Clinton County Treasurer Kimberly Davis, who is running for State Senate, in a drive-through fashion.

Many got out of their cars to speak with the Cobb, a Democrat from Canton. All were observed wearing masks.

“It’s always putting people first, and public health,” Cobb said of her campaign adapting to COVID-19 safety precautions.

A former St. Lawrence County legislator, she is running against incumbent North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, for a second time.

Zoom, drive-in

The campaign has hosted town halls on Zoom, Cobb said, with many attendees reached prior by phone. A drive-up rally in Washington County, at which Cobb would speak to attendees through an FM transmitter, was planned for later Saturday.

Cobb said that, over the weekend, her campaign was set to hit two million voter contact calls.

“That translates to almost 100,000 conversations and so what we want to do with those conversations is listen, right?”

Constituents’ top three concerns tend to center around health care, Social Security and Medicare, she said, adding that people also mention education and getting the economy going again.

“Not out of touch”

Last week, when journalist Bob Woodward released taped interviews with President Donald Trump in which the president stated in February that he knew of the novel coronavirus’ deadly nature and, the next month, said he wanted to play it down, Cobb called on Stefanik to step down as his campaign co-chair in New York.

“She, you know, for moral reasons, should not be standing by and supporting someone who lied to the American people,” Cobb added Saturday.

Stefanik’s campaign had responded Thursday by describing Cobb as the most anti-Trump Democrat in the country, saying she was out of touch with the district and calling on her to disavow the Biden-Harris ticket.

To counter those comments, Cobb pointed to more than three decades of living in the North Country.

“I went to SUNY Potsdam, and I’ve spent my life in public service in this community, as a volunteer firefighter, as a health care advocate, as a mom, as a community educator.

“I am not out of touch with the district. This is my community and has been, and that’s why I’m running for office.”

On president’s shoulders

Regarding the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at Essex Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Elizabethtown that, as of Friday, totaled 102 people, including 11 deceased residents, Cobb said that, months into the pandemic, there was no realistic and consistent federal response.

“And of course we’ve, again, just learned this president was calling this virus a hoax while he knew how horrible it was,” she continued, referencing the Woodward tapes.

“This sits on the president’s shoulders: the lack of a federal response and the lack of working with states to make sure that we had all of the information and all of the support to keep people safe as well.”

Person, not party

According to the state Board of Elections’ latest party enrollment statistics, dated Feb. 21, New York’s 21st Congressional District has almost 45,600 more active Republican voters than Democratic voters. But there are also 86,450 active “blanks” — voters who are not registered with a party.

Asked how she would strategize to overcome the Republican advantage and win over blanks, Cobb said she likes to say “that we’re a fiercely independent district.”

“People vote for the person, not the party, and that’s what’s important.”

“Those are her words”

Cobb then went on to say it was “horrific” that Stefanik “has not said a word” regarding June reports that a Russian intelligence unit offered Taliban-linked militants bounties for killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

“That is not supporting our troops, our soldiers, and letting their families know that she has their backs.”

Cobb said Stefanik is in a special position as a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees.

“Yet she can’t stand up for our troops and she can’t confront this president when he calls people in service who have lost their lives losers and suckers,” she continued, referencing a report in The Atlantic that cited sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“That sits on her shoulders. Until she unequivocally calls out that, those are her words as well. She’s his campaign co-chair.”

Deep commitment

Cobb said there are many issues to consider going into election season.

“At the end of the day, people need to know, is the person in Washington going to fight for them? Elise Stefanik has one priority and that is Elise Stefanik and she’s shown it time and time again by her record.”

Cobb said she has fought for North Country families for 30 years.

“There’s a saying, ‘The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,’ and I think my past behavior just shows the deep commitment that I have in the work that I’ve done, and will do.”

Illegal leaks

Reached Saturday, Stefanik spokeswoman Maddie Anderson said that Cobb had been “hiding for eight months with only two public events until this weekend.”

“Congresswoman Stefanik has done more district events last week than Tedra Cobb has done in the last eight months.”

She responded to Cobb’s comments largely by pointing to prior statements made by herself and the congresswoman on the topic of Russian bounties.

For example, on June 29, Stefanik stated that she had participated in a classified briefing on the matter, said force protection was a number one priority and touted actions the Trump administration has taken against Russian aggression.

On July 9, Stefanik questioned Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper about their commitment to force protection and the potential damage of illegal intelligence leaks.

Anderson has stated that Cobb could “continue to embarrass herself by shamelessly politicizing illegal leaks.

“But voters in this district know that Elise is one of the strongest supporters of our military in the entire country.”

Standing up

Anderson also spoke about Cobb’s most recent campaign ad, which criticizes Stefanik and Trump’s response to the Russian bounty intelligence.

She pointed to a July 1 Adirondack Daily Enterprise article in which Cobb said she was not yet sure what she would do regarding Russia as the intelligence community would have to brief Congress first.

“Congresswoman Stefanik has a long record standing up to Russia and working with her bipartisan House colleagues on legislation to combat Russian aggression toward the United States,” Anderson said.

“Tedra Cobb’s only record on Russia is saying she doesn’t know what she would do.”

Anderson said the ad shows Cobb is the “number one anti-Trump Democrat” in the country, and smears the North Country voters who support Trump and will vote to re-elect him.

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