Foust, Comstock Square Off in Congressional Debate

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Republican Barbara Comstock and Democrat John Foust battled Sunday in their final debate over who would take the most bipartisan approach to succeed the retiring Frank Wolf in Congress.

Foust cited his work on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to balance budgets in cooperation with Republicans. Comstock cited her work in the House of Delegates to sponsor legislation on nonpartisan issues such as telework and combatting human trafficking.

But Foust attacked Comstock's history as a Republican operative who made her name on Capitol Hill as an opposition researcher who was at the center of investigations of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1990s. He received catcalls from Comstock supporters in the crowd when he called her "partisan to an unacceptable extreme.''

The shouts were disruptive enough during Foust's closing statement that the debate moderator allowed Foust to start his statement over again.

Comstock says the critique of her work in the Clinton years ignores her more recent work as a state delegate. She said she has worked across the aisle on issues of importance to northern Virginia's technology and business communities.

Previous debates sponsored by local chambers of commerce limited the topics to business issues, so Sunday's debate was the first that allowed discussion of the candidates' differences on social issues. Foust took advantage of the opportunity to highlight the candidates' differences on abortion. Foust, who is pro-abortion rights, criticized Comstock for her vote in Richmond that would require a woman to undergo an ultrasound procedure before receiving an abortion, and for her opposition to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Comstock said the real issue confronting members of Congress is federal funding of abortions, and she said she would maintain the status quo of denying Medicaid funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger. She said it's an issue where she wants to "find ways to bring people together and not fight.''

Foust countered, "Of course you don't want to fight about it. What you want to do is get people off your back for not standing up for a woman's right to make her own health care choices.''

Foust also attacked Comstock's position on gun control, calling her positions "scary'' and criticizing her vote to repeal Virginia's law limiting handgun purchases to once a month and her top rating from the National Rifle Association.

Comstock said she worked in the most recent legislative session on mental-health reforms that she said would make Virginians safer while preserving their Second Amendment rights and that she supports adding school resource officers to keep students safe.

The Foust-Comstock Race in Virginia's 10th Congressional District is expected to be the closest contest among Virginia's 10 congressional districts. The 10th District seat, which stretches from inside the Capital Beltway in northern Virginia west to the Shenandoah Valley, has not been open since the district was created in 1952. Wolf, a Republican, has held the seat since 1981. The district has supported Republicans and Democrats in presidential and gubernatorial races.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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