Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Republican challenger Daniel Gade appeared virtually on NBC4 for their first debate. NBC News’ Chuck Todd moderated the debate from Washington, D.C. with a live Zoom audience.
Topics included the Supreme Court nominations, COVID-19, the digital divide, policing, racial justice, immigration, and the election.
Questions came from panelists Aaron Gilchrist (News4 Today anchor), Julie Carey (News4 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief), Alberto Pimienta (Telemundo 44 anchor).
Throughout the debate, incumbent Warner emphasized the national technological gap, the next Supreme Court nominee, and his political career of bipartisanship.
Warner stated that dealing with the coronavirus should be Americans’ primary focus. Any steps forward out of the pandemic would “require following the science.”
The incumbent argued that the Supreme Court seat should be left vacant until after the election. He stated that the impact of a Trump nominee could hinder the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“We ought to wait and let Americans decide who the next justice should be,” Warner said.
Conversely, Gade emphasized on Warner’s shortcomings when presenting his stance on each topic. The challenger’s remarks included the general neglect of career politicians, Warner’s vote against a second relief package, and how Warner’s statements contradict his actions.
“I’ve consistently heard the same old, stale ideas aren’t working for Virginians. I’m a career servant with a mortgage and the everyday worries of middle class life. Mark is a career partisan who made millions off of political handouts, and who cynically talks about reducing insulin prices for diabetic children while taking three quarters of a million dollars from Big Pharma in campaign contributions.”
Both candidates agreed on taking the vaccine. Gade added that he would prioritize high-risk individuals as the first consumers.
When asked, neither candidate clearly stated whether they believed “systemic racism” exists. Warner would only state that the “history of race has always been challenging,” though he affirmed that “Black Lives Matter” and police reform are important. Gade stated that “pockets of racism still exist today in America” and that they need to be discovered and “stamped out.”
However, both candidates condemned the retaliatory violence of the riots and supported police reform. Gade diverged on the banning of chokeholds in policing tactics and lessening police funding.
The candidates also agreed that deportations of immigrants with temporary protected status should be paused during the pandemic.
Early voting ends the Saturday before Election Day on November 3. The candidates will debate next on October 3.
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