Staying noncommittal about his support of Donald Trump has put U.S. Senator Pat Toomey in late night TV jokes and resulted in repeated attacks from his opponent Katie McGinty.
And Toomey stuck with that approach during the pair’s first debate Monday.
Toomey, the incumbent Republican from Lehigh County; and Democrat Katie McGinty of Chester County, who has never before held elected office, met in the first of two televised debates at 1 p.m. at KDKA’s Pittsburgh station. (The debate airs on CBS affiliates across the state at 7 p.m.) For the last few months, most polls have shown them as tied or within the margin of error.
Cut to the chase
Moderator and KDKA anchor Ken Rice didn’t waste any time, kicking off the debate by asking the candidates if they — “yes or no” — would support their party’s candidate for president.
McGinty went first (per a coin toss), gave her obvious answer, that yes, she’s supporting Clinton, and went on to say it was “objectionable” that Toomey has yet to answer that question.
Toomey responded by saying McGinty was so “partisan” that she couldn’t grasp disagreements within a party.
So Rice asked again — twice
During the back-and-forth on that first question, Rice asked Toomey twice … TWICE … if Toomey would just answer the “yes or no” portion.
Toomey first said, “I have not reached a point where I can endorse Donald Trump, because I have so many concerns about his candidacy.”
He then later answered, “At some point, I probably will, (disclose his vote for president) but there is more ethics we need to talk about.”
Bring back steel
Trump has repeatedly said that he will bring steel and manufacturing back to Pennsylvania, including four times during his rally at Ambridge Area High School last week.
So, Rice asked if Trump was correct to make those statements or if it was spreading false hope.
Toomey stuttered into his answer, starting with stories about manufacturing visits. He said that he supports agreements that would sell American items overseas and will go to bat for deals that aren’t fair to manufacturing. He said the Trans-Pacific Partnership is flawed.
Rice jumped in (again) to “direct you back to the question.”
With the right policies and the right firms, he said towns like Ambridge and those in the Monongahela Valley could come back. But he didn’t say with steel specifically.
Poll watchers and a rigged election
It was the last question before closing statements, and Toomey said it was “maybe one of the most important questions of the evening.”
And that question was if the candidates shared Trump’s concern that the presidential election will be rigged in Pennsylvania and that supporters should watch the polls.
“Our elections may not be completely perfect, but they are legitimate, and we all need to respect the outcome,” Toomey said. He added that he doesn’t know what will happen, but everyone needs to respect the outcome of every race to come together Nov. 9.
The election process in this country works, he said.
McGinty, however, used her response to call again for Toomey to share his feelings on Trump and said, “Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States.”
And in case you were wondering, problems aren’t likely with poll watchers in Pennsylvania, experts across the state have told The Incline, and the Allegheny County District Attorney released a statement today saying election rigging and voter fraud are unlikely.