High costs, economy, abortion top last Pappas-Leavitt debate

Rep. Chris Pappas/File
Rep. Chris Pappas/File(Mary Schwalm | AP)
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 11:11 AM EDT
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Chis Pappas accused his Republican challenger of treating politics as a performance without offering solutions to problems, while Karoline Leavitt accused the Democratic incumbent of being a partisan problem creator during their third and last debate on Thursday.

The two candidates for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District seat offered contrasting views on a range of issues, including rising costs and the economy, as well as abortion, during the WMUR-TV debate.

Pappas, who is seeking a third term, said he was proud to have worked on getting a record amount of money to New Hampshire families from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. He said he is working on ways to modernize shipping and trucking regulations to “unkink supply chains,” to move more goods to market, strengthen the workforce and deal with the state’s housing shortage, which is contributing to inflation.

“Well, Congressman, everything you said sounds wonderful, but the truth is none of it has passed and none of it has worked,” Leavitt said. “Granite Staters are suffering.”

She accused Pappas of supporting trillions of dollars in spending she says contributed to inflation and attacking energy production in New Hampshire, which he said was “not true.”

“I support an all-of-the-above energy strategy and have supported legislation to pay down the deficit” that also provides tax credits for homes and businesses for energy efficiency programs, Pappas said.

Leavitt said if elected to Congress she would work to pass a balanced budget and slash spending for useless items over voting to raise the debt ceiling, which would allow the Treasury Department to honor financial commitments already made by Congress and the president.

Citing economists, Pappas called that a “totally reckless position, because not only would it jeopardize our own economic health here in the United States, it could lead to a global depression.”

“We need bipartisan conversations about how to lower the debt and deficit,” he said, adding “we shouldn’t be holding our economy, with the full faith and credit of the United States, hostage.”

Leavitt responded, “Our economy is hostage right now. The people of this district are hostage right now because of the economic policies that you supported.”

On the subject of abortion, Leavitt, who is pro-life, said she supports state legislatures making decisions on abortion regulations and would oppose a federal abortion ban.

Pappas, who supports the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to access abortion care nationwide after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, said women in New Hampshire deserve a pro-choice vote in Congress.

“I want women and families in consultation with their doctors to decide this for themselves,” Pappas said.

“No, that’s not true,” Leavitt responded. “You want politicians in Washington, D.C., to make those decisions. ... I support those closest to the people, closest to the voters,” in Concord, she said.

Pappas called her answer “really chilling,” adding, “I think government should get out of the way because they have no business deciding this issue for women and families.”

Both candidates were asked if they believe former President Donald Trump when he said the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Leavitt, who worked in the White House press office under Trump, had said during pre-primary debates she believed the 2020 election was stolen from the former president. On Thursday, she said that she believes there were irregularities in the 2020 election.

She spoke of Pappas’ support for a bill that would have created national automatic voter registration, allowed all voters to cast ballots by mail and weakened voter ID laws, among other measures.

“Donald Trump is wrong,” Pappas said. “The election was not stolen from him. Everyone knows that. And Karoline Leavitt continues to double-down on the big lie.”

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