CULPEPER COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - Republican Congressman Dave Brat and Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger faced off in their only scheduled debate in the race for the 7th District Congressional seat.
The Culpeper Chamber of Commerce hosted the debate at Germanna Community College in Culpeper - an opportunity for these two candidates to pull ahead from being tied in a recent Monmouth University poll.
Each point was met with a counter point, and there were times the attacks became personal.
Congressman Brat said Spanberger would vote for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.
“If you vote for Abigail Spanberger, the result will be the Nancy Pelosi liberal policies across the board,” said Brat. To which Spanberger responded, “I question which Democratic candidate Brat knows he’s running against. Because I am not the Democrat who supported single-payer in the primary, I am not Nancy Pelosi, and I am not President Barack Obama.”
The candidates were asked how they would control high prescription and healthcare costs.
“The last thing we need to do for pharmaceuticals is move toward the Obamacare model and total government take over of health care,” said Brat.
“We need to strengthen our health care system and we need a public option," said Spanberger.
Another heated moment of the debate happened over the topics of immigration reform and sanctuary cities.
“We need our Federal ICE agents working with us at the state and local level - (Spanberger’s) objection there is very radical. She’s saying don’t follow the law of the land,” said Brat.
“I appreciate you explaining to me the roll of federal law enforcement agents, because indeed I used to be one,” Spanberger responded. “I do not support safe havens for criminals or gangs.”
And the candidates laid out their plan to curb gun violence in schools.
“Background checks on all firearms purchases - This is simply applying the same standard that exists if you go to a Federally licensed store like Cabella’s as if you buy at a gun show,” said Spanberger.
Brat laid out his three point plan: “The first is to harden the schools with school resource officers, the second is to enhance significantly mental health,” and he said the third would be to better connect local, state and federal law enforcement.
Libertarian Joe Walton was not included in the debate. Walton issued a statement that reads:
"I am disappointed Representative Brat wouldn’t commit to participate if I was on stage even though I am a ballot-certified candidate. That is disrespectful to the voters in the 7th District and the democratic process. They need to hear from all he candidates so they can make an informed decision about representation in Congress. However, I was able to attend in the audience and have Live Tweeted my responses to the debate questions. I’ll be writing complete responses and videos of my responses shortly for distribution.”
NBC12 reached out to the Brat campaign for comment on Walton’s statement and will update this story.