ABOVE PHOTO: Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidates Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, left, and Democrat Katie McGinty take part in a debate at Temple University in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
On Monday night, Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey and his Democratic challenger Katie McGinty faced off at Temple University’s Performing Arts Center, and the sharp elbows promptly came out.
By Denise Clay
During Monday night’s Pennsylvania U.S. Senate debate, the moderator, longtime 6ABC anchorman Jim Gardner, asked the participants — incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey and his Democratic challenger Katie McGinty — if the negative ads they’ve been hitting each other with have contributed to voter mistrust during this election.
As if on cue, the two candidates proceeded to showcase that negativity.
“My opponent had to take down one of her ads because it was dishonest,” Toomey said. “I also wanted her to agree to five debates around the Commonwealth, and she wouldn’t do it.”
“My ads have been fact checked and found to be accurate,” McGinty said. “He talks about the amount of money that’s been spent on my ads, but End Citizens United has endorsed me.”
The candidates came to Temple University’s Performing Arts Center to take part in the last of two Senate debates. The first was held last week in the KDKA-TV studios in Pittsburgh and 6ABC took the lead in this one. In addition to getting questions from Gardner, Toomey and McGinty also took videotaped questions from Temple students and questions from social media.
While the first debate managed to give you some indication of where the candidates stood on a variety of issues ranging to the economy and jobs to police/community relations, Monday night’s debate featured more attacks and fewer answered questions.
For example, the candidates were asked for their feelings on the current offensive being conducted by Iraqi forces to regain control of the city of Mosul.
Toomey’s answer made you feel like he didn’t hear the question.
“I think that we should get out of the Iran [nuclear] deal,” he said. “My opponent supports the White House in this bad deal.”
Meanwhile, when asked about the “new normal” in terms of the economy and the training one will need to navigate it, McGinty went off on a tangent of her own.
“Pat Toomey owns a bank,” she said. “He’s been for the bankers, not for us.”
Toomey continued to try and distance himself from Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. From opting not to attend this summer’s Republican National Convention to not attending any of Trump’s Pennsylvania appearances, Toomey has been trying to put as much distance between he and Trump without offending the presidential candidate’s supporters he’ll need to win re-election.
That he’s not on the “Trump Train” shows his independence, Toomey said, unlike McGinty who is endorsing Clinton despite being, in Toomey’s mind, “a flawed candidate.”
“I talk about Donald Trump’s flaws all of the time,” Toomey said. “But Katie McGinty lies so much that she can’t talk about Hillary’s lies. My constituents don’t care about who I’m voting for.”
Meanwhile, McGinty continued to try and tie Trump around Toomey’s neck like a concrete block in an effort to sink him. The fact that this race is polling within the margin of error with McGinty slightly ahead shows that the block is doing its job.
While she said she disagreed with Clinton about the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, McGinty said she proudly supports her party’s nominee.
“I do support Hillary Clinton for President, because she is going to work for working class families,” McGinty said. “The same reason I’m in this campaign.”
During last week’s debate, the subject of police/community relations and implicit bias in policing came up. While Toomey and McGinty’s responses didn’t generate a lot of response in Pittsburgh, the candidate’s responses were received differently in Philadelphia.
For example, Toomey’s proud declaration that he had garnered endorsements from various Fraternal Orders of Police wasn’t received well.
And neither was what he said next when answering the question about implicit bias.
“The phrase Black Lives Matter impugns the integrity of police,” he said. “All Lives Matter” and I think that police get that.”
“We need more community policing,” McGinty said. “I believe that Black Lives Matter. When we recognize the dignity of any person, we’re all lifted up.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8th.