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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Both Republican U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus and Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb showed up for their first televised debate at KDKA-TV, in what is the only race between two incumbent congressmen in the nation.
Ken Rice moderated the debate with questions from Lynne Hayes-Freeland and Jon Delano and a wide spectrum of issues were covered like hearings on Dr. Ford’s sexual abuse charges and Justice Kavanaugh‘s response.
“The president just today has called the misconduct allegations ‘just a hoax, all made up, all fabricated,’” noted Rice.
“Would you welcome further hearings to get all the facts, as some are calling for now?” he asked the candidates.
Both Lamb and Rothfus said no to that.
U.S. 17th District Congressional Debate (Pt. 1)
“This has been a very contorted process. I think the Senate made the right decision,” said Rothfus. “I haven’t seen anything that calls for further investigation. The Senate had access to the FBI and a closed report that we will never see.”
“Why should any Democrat who supports President Trump vote for you?” asked Jon Delano of Democrat Lamb.
Lamb seemed to work hard not to anger Trump voters in a district that voted for the president by two points in 2016 and might reject a Democratic Congress that could impeach the president.
“None of us has seen any evidence relating to impeachment of anyone, so it would be totally premature and those in my party who are already calling for that are wrong,” insisted Lamb.
Delano: “So to be clear, impeachment should not be on the table?”
Lamb: “As of this moment, absolutely not.”
U.S. 17th District Congressional Debate (Pt. 2)
For his part, Rothfus warned what a Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives could mean.
“If you want to see gridlock set in in the United States Congress, that’s what you would have,” said Rothfus. “You would have endless investigations. The best economy in 20 years and we don’t want that interrupted.”
The new 17th congressional district has been considered a toss-up between Rothfus and Lamb and both accused each other of distorting the others’ record and agreed and disagreed on issues.
“Everything in my campaign ads is truthful and honest,” said Rothfus.
“In his very first ad, he took a swipe at me and talked about outside money coming in, blasting my name out there as if I would have anything to do with that,” he said.
There is one big difference.
Rothfus says, while he holds telephone town hall meetings, he won’t hold public town meetings.
Delano: “So you will not commit to holding any public town hall meetings?”
Rothfus: “I think in the environment we have where you have people who intentionally decided to disrupt these meetings and even when I was doing my Coffee with Keiths [people] come in and be more interested in having a confrontation than a dialogue.”
Lamb: “I’ll give you a direct answer, Jon, yes. I have done it several times already as a congressman and my rule is simple. I will take any question in the house.”
And although he wasn’t there, the president and his veracity were clearly in the debate.
“Tell us, does the president speak for you?” Lynne Hayes-Freeland asked the candidates.
“I speak for myself,” said Rothfus.
“I think a lot of great journalists have established that the president doesn’t always tell the truth no matter what the subject is,” noted Lamb.
The election is in just four weeks.