State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Toomey, McGinty clash on Obamacare, policing, guns and more in Pittsburgh

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 17, 2016 10:01 PM

Toomey and McGinty are neck and neck in an average of recent state polls. (Photo by AP)

(Pittsburgh) - This is an election season in which the unpopularity of both major party presidential nominees has had an outsize effect on down-ballot races. Monday's contentious US Senate debate between GOP incumbent Pat Toomey and Democrat Katie McGinty in Pittsburgh was no exception.

The race is one of the tightest for Senate in the country, and both candidates were largely on the offensive.

The first question from KDKA-TV moderator Ken Rice was one Pat Toomey has struggled with for months.

"As a leader in your party, yes or no, do you support--as in will you vote for and encourage others to vote for--your party's presidential nominee?" Rice asked.

Toomey hasn't officially endorsed GOP nominee Donald Trump. And though he's criticized the businessman in the past, he also hasn't disavowed him.

So Toomey gave his standard answer: he'd like to endorse, but he's still not there yet.

He also responded to McGinty's criticisms of his in-between position on Trump.

"Because Katie is so extremely partisan, she can't grasp the idea that somebody might have trouble with a candidate in their own party," he said. "But I do."

The candidates attacked each other on state and national issues, including gun control, coal and steel jobs, and Obamacare.

In their most animated moment, they fought over who is more supportive of police officers, both arguing that they'd received more support from police unions and organizations.

However, there was one issue where they appeared unified: Donald Trump's claims that the election is rigged.

Calling it "maybe one of the most important questions" when asked about the potential for large-scale election fraud, Toomey said, "our elections may not always be completely perfect, but they are legitimate. They have integrity. And everyone needs to respect the outcome."

Toomey and McGinty will debate again on October 24th, this time in Philadelphia.

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