U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and his Republican opponent, Daniel Gade, faced off in a debate sponsored by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, NBC4 and Telemundo 44 on Wednesday.
Filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, police reform and ballot security revealed some sharp differences between the two candidates.
Gade, a political newcomer, held his own against Warner.
Because of COVID-19 safety concerns, the candidates were in separate rooms at the Northern Virginia Chamber, answering questions from our panel at NBC4.
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On the topic of criminal justice reform, both men said they are opposed to defunding the police, but they disagree on whether reforms should include bans on certain police tactics like chokeholds.
“I think we need to make the kind of investments in our police to give them the tools and the training,” Warner said. “We need to put the body cameras on police officers.”
“We can and must stand by our police officers to give them the training they need,” Warner said.
“The bill that you’re advocating for, along with your left-wing colleagues in the Senate, prohibits non-lethal methods like chokeholds, and that sounds fine for somebody who’s never been in a gunfight one not in a gunfight or somebody who’s never been in a physical fight,” Gade said.
Gade believes without the non-lethal option of a chokehold, officers might have to resort to their weapon and deadly force. Gade also pointed out he’s been endorsed by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, a group that has endorsed Warner in the past.
Regarding the vacant Supreme Court seat, Gade said Senate Republicans got it wrong in 2016. He thinks President Barack Obama’s pick should have gotten a confirmation hearing. He believes President Donald Trump has constitutional authority and his nomination should be able to move forward.
“It’s time for the Senate to hashtag do their job; if the president to appoints somebody, it’s time for the Senate to take a vote and let’s do our constitutional responsibility,” Gade said.
Warner said 2016 set a new precedent that should be followed.
“I think particularly now, when Virginians are already voting, we ought to wait and let Americans decide, let them have their votes counted before we decide who becomes the next Supreme Court justice,” Warner said.
For the first time, Virginians can cast mail-in ballots early with no excuse, even using drop boxes for the return if they choose.
Gade opposes unattended drop boxes, concerned someone could tamper with them.
Warner said his opponent was taking a Trump approach and trying to restrict voting.
Warner has already voted and said he trusts postal workers to get their job done.
Gade said he is waiting for Election Day so his daughter can return from college and vote with him.
The debate airs on NBC4 and in the video player at the top of this article Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The candidates have two more debates in October.