US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer faced off against Republican rival Joe Pinion Sunday night in the sole debate between the candidates before election day.
Pinion spent much of the time blaming the Democratic powerbroker for inflation, immigration, opioid deaths and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“You bring home the bacon sure – but many people’s bellies are empty,” Pinion, 39, said.
Pinion was asked about political violence following an attack by an alleged rightwing extremist on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“It is Chuck Schumer whose divisive rhetoric has led to the environment that we see today,” he claimed.
But Schumer held his ground in the hour-long debate moderated by Errol Louis and Susan Arbetter of Spectrum News at Union College in Schenectady.
“He was a pundit. We’re hearing a lot of punditry, a lot of pointing fingers, a lot of verbiage, but no real solutions. Not only have I proposed real solutions, I’ve passed them,” Schumer said of the former Newsmax host.
“I have been more productive as a senator and as majority leader than just about anybody else,” Schumer said at one point while highlighting legislative wins like a blockbuster bill driving microchip production to places like upstate New York.
Schumer also touted the passage of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act that aims to decrease US emissions by 40% by 2030.
“I believe that we need to start taxing the pollution that occurs from beyond our borders,” Pinion said while redirecting his ire from Schumer to the Chinese government, which he also criticized for a lack of transparency at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Democrats are hoping to hold their thin majority in the 50-50 chamber in what experts say could be a tough midterm election cycle for their party, which is also playing defense in the U.S. House.
Polls show Schumer ahead by double digits against Pinion, who has received backing from some police unions, though the margin has appeared to narrow in recent weeks.
Pinion complained about the electric bills that his mother received.
“Seniors like my mother are terrified of the mailman because they think the electric bill is going to give them a heart attack. This is not a legacy of success, from my perspective, it is a legacy of failure,” Pinion said of Schumer.
Pinion, a Yonkers native, said he opposed making COVID vaccines mandatory for school kids while Schumer said he would lean on the advice of experts.
The Senate kingpin, however, was put on the defensive on some issues, with no clear answers on whether he personally supports adding members to the US Supreme Court or requiring parents to be notified in some circumstances when their child seeks an abortion.
Schumer, like Pinion, played the blame game on stage by saying Congressional Republicans were the reason why illegal immigration remained a problem at the US border due to their opposition to legislative action on that issue and others in recent years.
But Pinion at one point noted that the Brooklyn Democrat ought to blame himself before criticizing ex-President Donald Trump considering the campaign cash Schumer had received from the real estate mogul before he ran for president.
“There’s only one person on this stage who’s received $80,000 from the Trump family,” Pinion said.
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