Leavitt and Pappas have final debate; Leavitt leads in latest NHIOP poll

Chris Pappas and Karoline Leavitt argued a final debate at NHIOP, awaiting election day

Photos courtesy of Chris Pappas, Karoline Leavitt

Chris Pappas and Karoline Leavitt argued a final debate at NHIOP, awaiting election day

Michael Hanna, Crier Staff

Incumbent Democratic Congressman Chris Pappas and Saint Anselm Alumna Karoline Leavitt returned to campus Thursday night for their final debate in this election cycle. Both candidates looked to pull undecided voters to their side in the final stretch.

Throughout the debate, both Pappas and Leavitt used the stage to dispute accusations made by opposing campaigns and outside sources. Both candidates have used negative ads to exaggerate their opponent’s positions on key issues to make them seem more extreme.

A key talking point throughout this race from the Leavitt camp has been that Congressman Pappas has been and will continue to be a lackey for Democratic leadership. Pappas had the opportunity to refute that claim during the debate on immigration reform, saying, “well, we do have a crisis on the border, and I have stood up to the Biden administration and urged them to develop a plan.” Earlier this year, he also opposed Biden’s decision to forgive student debt, calling it “no way to make policy.” Touching on it in this debate again, Pappas said, “some areas I will look [to reduce student debt] includes increasing Pell grants… exploring more opportunities for tuition assistance programs, and looking to help high school graduates enter the workforce.”

Leavitt has consistently been portrayed by the Pappas camp, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and other Liberal/Democrat political action committees as “too extreme for New Hampshire.” They accuse Leavitt of having an extreme position on abortion and supporting a federal ban and her position on privatizing Social Security.

On the issue of abortion, Leavitt takes the ideologically conservative approach supporting limited federal intervention and the state’s rights to make decisions, saying, “I do not support a federal abortion ban. I have been consistent and clear. I believe this issue lies with our state legislature here in Concord, NH. I support our current New Hampshire law that Governor Sununu signed, and I will continue to support the rights of our legislature in Concord to make these decisions.”

Regarding Social Security, Leavitt acknowledges the system’s flaws but states, “I have pledged consistently to protect Social Security for all those who are receiving their benefits and for every other American who is currently paying into the system. However, I want to save social security for future generations of Americans… I want to look for sustainable retirement solutions; all options are on the table.”

Following the debate, each candidate had a two-minute interview in the spin room with WMUR (New Hampshire’s ABC Affiliate). Leavitt took her opportunity to claim a debate victory saying, “we absolutely won tonight’s debate.” A recent Saint Anselm poll has Karoline Leavitt leading by 6 points. Leavitt says her campaign won’t change in the final five days, responding, “we are going to continue the strategy we implemented since day 1, which is to run like we’re 30 points behind.”

When it was Congressman Pappas’s turn in the spin room, he seemed content in his performance, saying, “well, I think it went well. I laid out my case about the work I’ve been doing in Washington, going to bat for our working families and small businesses” adding “there’s still a few days left in this campaign and we’re just excited to get out to be around New Hampshire and continue delivering this message to the people of New Hampshire.”

With the election just days away and the race as tight as ever, expect to see both candidates hard at work across the district trying to elaborate further on their positions, attempting to secure your vote on Tuesday, November 8.