NEW YORK (PIX11) — Gov. Kathy Hochul and Congressman Lee Zeldin faced off Tuesday in their only scheduled debate ahead of Election Day. The two sparred over a wide range of topics, from public safety to the economy to abortion rights.
Right out of the gate, the Democratic incumbent and the conservative Republican clashed over the issue that’s been front and center and making headlines: crime.
“You’re poorer and less safe because of Kathy Hochul and extreme policies. This is your opportunity to save New York,” said Zeldin. “There are criminals out there who need to pay the consequences of their actions instead of the catch-and-release policies Kathy Hochul champions.”
Hochul had made reproductive rights a key issue in her campaign, but in recent weeks, as Zeldin has surged in the polls, she has pivoted to talking about inflation and crime.
“We have to talk about getting guns out of the hands of young people, background checks and people who are severely mentally ill,” said Hochul. “What I have proposed with Mayor [Eric] Adams is more cops, cameras in the subways, as well as care for the people who are severely mentally ill.”
The debate lasted a little over an hour. They also tackled the economy.
“We need to bring down taxes,” said Zeldin. “Generate revenue, bring spending under control, bring down taxes. New York is going to be back open for business on Jan. 1.”
“If you’re really serious about helping people, you’re going to cut their taxes, middle-class families,” said Hochul. “I did that this year with the Legislature.”
Hochul is facing what other Democrats across the nation are facing – that the economy and crime may be more important to some voters than other issues like abortion rights. So Hochul spotlights Zeldin’s pro-life stance.
“Let’s look at the record. There are very few people in Congress who have more of a pro-life record,” said Hochul.
Hochul has consistently hammered at Zeldin’s support of former President Donald Trump and labeled him an election denier. Zeldin voted against certifying the 2020 election.
When asked if she would like to see Joe Biden run for reelection, Hochul responded quickly, “Yes, I do.” When asked if he would like to see Donald Trump run for president in 2024, Zeldin responded, “Not even thinking about it. I’m focused on 14 days from today.”
In recent days, both candidates picked up high-profile endorsements. Zeldin is getting the support of the city’s Correction Officers Union. The New York Times announced it is backing Hochul.