Katko says he's been consistent on criticism of Trump
The discord over the presidential election continues to filter down into a race for Congress in central New York. The question of whether freshman Republican Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) would support Donald Trump continues to dog the campaign for the 24th Congressional District.
The questions started coming this spring: would Katko, trying to win re-election in a district rated as a toss-up, support Trump, a controversial nominee.
From the start Katko was wary, saying he wouldn’t publicly support Trump because of the divisive tone of the Trump candidacy. But he never said he wouldn’t vote for Trump, something Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon pounced on. After the the release of a video tape from 2005 in which Trump uses sexually aggressive language forced several elected
Republicans to denounce the GOP presidential candidate, Deacon doubled down on her criticism.
“If you’re going to wait until after you’ve seen a whole number of Republican members of Congress, running for Congress, decide to denounce him, then it’s okay for you to denounce him, that just shows that it’s cowardly,” said Deacon on Sunday.
That’s the soundbite that has gotten under Katko’s skin. He says he’s no coward, staring down violent criminals for much of his career as a federal prosecutor in Syracuse and Texas.
"I’ve had several death threats on a regular basis. I don’t back down. So calling me a coward is really pretty outrageous," Katko told reporters Tuesday.
Katko wants Deacon to withdraw that statement. Her answer to that is to say that "waiting until someone brags about sexual assault to denounce them is cowardly,” said Deacon.
Katko contends his stand on Trump has been consistent from the start.
"I’ve never endorsed him, I’ve never said I was going to vote for him. So, that’s all nonsense. It’s revisionist history, and quite frankly, I think it smacks of desperation on her part,” said Katko.
Katko is leading Deacon by 19 points in the latest Siena College/Time Warner Cable News poll. The 24th District includes all or parts of Onondaga,Cayuga, Wayne and Oswego Counties.