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Pappas, Edwards disagree — respectfully — on host of issues at NHPR debate

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 10. 2018 11:21AM

CONCORD — The two major candidates for the 1st District congressional seat, Democrat Chris Pappas and Republican Eddie Edwards, differed respectfully Wednesday over health care, Social Security, the minimum wage, guns and abortion during their first debate.

Edwards, of Dover, a former law enforcement professional, doubled down on his support for President Trump several times during the one-hour event that was sponsored by New Hampshire Public Radio.

In his only chance to question his opponent, Edwards asked Pappas how he would compromise with Trump as a proud supporter of the “resistance” movement.

“Your approach of being part of the resistance movement, I think it is a little misguided,” Edwards said. “How will you be an asset to the district by working with the President?”

Pappas said Trump has “talked a good game” about spending more on infrastructure and he’d work with the White House to make that happen.

Pappas asked Edwards how he professes to support women’s rights while opposing legal abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

“Why do you oppose a woman’s right to choose, even in those extreme cases?” Pappas asked.

Edwards said he was raised by a grandmother who taught him respect for life and he pushed back at the question since those restrictions on abortion are set by states, not by Congress.

“I fully respect life but your question goes to a divisive nature. You and I have no vote on this question in Washington but you are using this as a way to divide our nation,” Edwards said.

The two disagreed on the historical importance of their congressional race.

If he wins, Edwards would be the first African-American represenative elected from New Hampshire while Pappas, a Manchester restaurant owner, would be the first openly gay member of Congress from the state.

“I’m not special because I am black; Chris is not special because he’s gay. We are special because of what we mean to our nation, our families, our communities,” Edwards said.

Pappas embraced the potential milestone.

“At the end of the day, I am excited about being a new generation stepping up to run for Congress today,” Pappas said.

The two agreed Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act are a “stark” difference between them.

As an executive councilor, Pappas cast the deciding vote on the contract to expand Medicaid and provide insurance coverage to more than 50,000 low-income adults.

Edwards said he favors a free-market solution and that more competition would provide coverage the middle class could live with.

“The ACA, it has not worked right here in the state of New Hampshire. Middle-income families ... are paying $25,000 to $30,00 a year in their premiums and their deductibles. There is nothing affordable about that,” Edwards said.

Pappas said to make Social Security solvent in the future he would consider imposing a tax on earnings above the current cap of $118,000 a year.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense a millionaire pays as much in Social Security taxes as a middle-class person,” Pappas said.

While Pappas would support reinstating a ban on assault-style weapons, tougher background checks and “red flag” legislation to allow judges to take guns from unstable people, Edwards did not support any gun-control measures.

“We have a problem with violence in our country, not guns,” Edwards said.

The two have agreed to four other debates or forums, including one jointly sponsored by WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Elections Concord

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