The sound clips were bitten. Blows were exchanged. And with that, the first (and quite possibly the only) debate in the nationally watched US Senate race in Pennsylvania is officially in the books.
According A real clear policydemocrat John Fettermanthe sitting lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, walked into the night with an average lead of 1.3 percentage points on republican Mehmet Ozthe surgeon celebrates with the Asset approval.
A real clear policy rated the race to replace the retired GOP US Senator Pat Toomey, of Lehigh County, a coin toss. And with less than two weeks to go, the predictions website predicts Republicans will retain the seat in a year in which the winner will likely determine control of the chamber 50-50.
Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May, entered Tuesday night with a lot to prove – even as his campaign released a statement attempt to minimize expectations.
For ouncesa longtime New Jersey resident who faced rug bagging charges, it was a chance to demonstrate his good faith in Pennsylvania and show he could tell his Perkasies from his Pittsburghs.
How did it go? Three takeaways below.
1. It went wrong…fast.
It didn’t take long to Fetterman and ounces start yelling at each other, especially when discussing matters of public order, where ouncesthanks to a deluge of television commercials, sought to paint Fetterman so soft on crime.
“Violence has skyrocketed in Braddock. People kept leaving. The city was dangerous under your leadership,” ounces stung at one point, referring to by Fettermann term as mayor of the borough of Western Pennsylvania.
When discussing higher education, ounces stung Fetterman again in what appeared to be a reference to his ongoing recovery, “Obviously I haven’t been clear enough for you to understand that.” USA Today noted.
During an exchange on the right to abortion, Fetterman interjected loudly, “You ride with Doug Mastrianoreferring to the Republican gubernatorial candidate, who opposes abortion, and said he would sign a bill with no exceptions banning it as early as six weeks.
During an exchange on the minimum wage, Fetterman he said [Oz] really got no response. He doesn’t want to talk about someone who has a living wage and is able to survive.
ounces said he believed market forces would push the federal minimum, now $7.25 an hour, beyond the $15 an hour sought by reformers, including Fetterman.
Fetterman also repeatedly referred to what he called “The Rule of Oz.”
“If he’s on TV, he’s lying” Fetterman asserted at the start of the debate, when he was asked to specify his qualifications for running.
ounces also repeatedly accused Fetterman to cloud his own record, especially during an exchange on whether he supported or opposed fracking.
When asked at first, Fetterman said he supports hydraulic fracturing, the shorthand for the chemical process of extracting natural gas from the ground. When confronted with a past public statement where he opposed it, Fetterman remained adamant: “I support hydraulic fracturing,” he said.
2. There were sound clips, but the details were sometimes lacking.
Both candidates were asked how they would reduce the cost of higher education and how they would support vocational and technical education. Neither offered much detail.
Fetterman said he wanted to support vocational education, because “university is not for everyone”. We asked him how he would do that, Fetterman said he supported partnerships with unions and called for it to be “more affordable”.
ounces called for cutting middle managers at colleges and universities and increasing access to distance learning, but did not offer policy prescriptions on how he would make that a reality.
During a discussion on immigration, Fetterman called for a “bipartisan solution”, but did not describe what that would look like. ounces castigated the Biden White House for what he described as a “disaster” on the border and called for an end to so-called “sanctuary cities,” but also offered no political prescription.
Social media lit up during the abortion rights exchange when ounceswho opposes abortion but supports exceptions, said he believes abortion is a matter “of women, doctors, [and] local political leaders, leaving the democracy that has always allowed our nation to thrive, to come up with the best ideas so that states can decide for themselves.
Fettermanwhich supports the right to abortion, reiterated its support for Roe vs. Wadesaying he believes “abortion is health care, and I believe it’s a choice that is up to every woman and her doctor.”
3. The Trump and Biden factors.
Both candidates were asked if they would support their respective flag bearers in 2024.
ounceswas endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the May primary elections, seemed to distance himself of the 45th president shortly after securing the nomination.
Tuesday night, ounces first said he would support the eventual Republican nominee, then when pressed again said he would “support donald trump if he decides to run for president.
But, he added, “he is more than a candidate. It’s about how we’re going to build a bigger tent. ounces bypassed a question to find out if he had paid attention to of trump recent legal setbacks, saying, “I haven’t been following them very carefully… They’ll work themselves out.” And I have tremendous confidence in the justice system.
Fettermansaid it would be President Joe Biden if he chooses to run in 2024. But if he “chooses to run, I will support him”.
Asked if there were any places he broke up with Biden, Fetterman said he believed Biden “must do more to fight inflation.” But, he added, “I believe Joe Biden is a family man and defends the union way of life.
Election day is November 8 – now less than two weeks away.