The two candidates in the high-stakes 22nd Congressional district race kept the gloves on for a time, discussing priorities during a political forum Wednesday morning, at the Beeches, in Rome. For the Republican incumbent-jobs.
"I think the most important issue facing our nation is getting people back to work. We need to have people working so that they can earn a living, they could take care of their families, they could live the American dream," said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney.
The Democratic challenger says healthcare is priority one.
"To me, the number one priority is, we need to focus on rising premiums that are affecting everyone in this community and across upstate New York because of the two-year assault on the Affordable Care Act," said Anthony Brindisi.
In opening remarks, a hint of the dissention to come.
"What binds all these people together is their desire to have a representative in Congress who does not look for ways to try and divide people," said Brindisi.
Soon, the gloves came completely off.
"I feel like we're at the drone site, just droning on and on with trained, Nancy Pelosi talking points. She raised taxes. I have never raised taxes," said Tenney. "I don't know where to begin. It's a word salad of lies."
Rome Free Academy history and government students were in the audience at the political forum. They talked about how their elected leaders treated each other.
"I thought they answered some very good questions especially from the students. I think some of them, they kind of dodged the question a little bit and just attacked each other. Didn't really answer what needed to be answered," said Lauren La Forest. La Forest represents the RFA newspaper, the Knight Times. She found her industry under attack by the incumbent.
"Good luck fact checking anything with our local media because they're so busy erasing all the negative references to Anthony Brindisi that are on their website," said Tenney. After the forum, still at the event, Tenney cited the local newspaper for information.
"Recently in the Utica Observer Dispatch, just the increase in the funding for our community service agencies, those are something I fought for and obtained."
The roughly hour-long exchange between the two left the students hungry for more.
"I'd say very good debate and I'd be very intrigued to go and see more," said RFA student, Anthony Tamburrino.
The Rome Area Chamber of Commerce and the Professional and Businesswomen of Rome presented the forum.